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The potential of parsimonious models for understanding large scale transportation systems and answering big picture questions

TitleThe potential of parsimonious models for understanding large scale transportation systems and answering big picture questions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsDaganzo CF, Gayah VV, Gonzales EJ
JournalEURO Journal on Transportation and Logistics
Volume1
Issue1
Start Page47
Pagination47-65
Date Published06/2012
KeywordsContinuum approximations, Effective parsimonious models, Logistics, Macroscopic modeling, Urban mobility
Abstract

A model with few variables is said to be parsimonious. If it is also analytically tractable, physically realistic, and conceptually insightful, it is said to be effective. Effective parsimonious models have long been used in fields such as economics and applied physics to describe the aggregate behavior of systems as opposed to the behavior of their individual parts. In transportation, these models are particularly well suited to address big picture questions because they provide insights that might be lost when focusing on details. This paper presents an abbreviated history of effective parsimonious models in the transportation field, classified by sub-area: regional and urban economics, traffic flow, queuing theory, network dynamics, town planning, public transportation, logistics, and infrastructure management. The paper also discusses the benefits of these models—fewer data requirements, reduced computational complexity, improved system representation, insightfulness—and ways of constructing them. Two examples, one from logistics and one from urban transportation, are used to illustrate these points. Finally, the paper discusses ways of expanding the application of effective parsimonious models in the transportation field.

DOI10.1007/s13676-012-0003-z