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Real-time information and correlations for optimal routing in stochastic networks

He Huang, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Congestion is a world-wide problem in transportation. One major reason is random interruptions. The traffic network is inherently stochastic, and strong dependencies exist among traffic quantities, e.g., travel time, traffic speed, link volume. Information in stochastic networks can help with adaptive routing in terms of minimizing expected travel time or disutility. Routing in such networks is different from that in deterministic networks or when stochastic dependencies are not taken into account. This dissertation addresses the optimal routing problems, including the optimal a priori path problem and the optimal adaptive routing problem with different information scenarios, in stochastic and time-dependent networks with explicit consideration of the correlations between link travel time random variables. There are a number of studies in the literature addressing the optimal routing problems, but most of them ignore the correlations between link travel times. The consideration of the correlations makes the problem studied in this dissertation difficult, both conceptually and computationally. The optimal path finding problem in such networks is different from that in stochastic and time-dependent networks with no consideration of the correlations. This dissertation firstly provides an empirical study of the correlations between random link travel times and also verifies the importance of the consideration of the spatial and temporal correlations in estimating trip travel time and its reliability. It then shows that Bellman's principle of optimality or non-dominance is not valid due to the time-dependency and the correlations. A new property termed purity is introduced and an exact label-correcting algorithm is designed to solve the problem. With the fast advance of telecommunication technologies, real-time traffic information will soon become an integral part of travelers' route choice decision making. The study of optimal adaptive routing problems is thus timely and of great value. This dissertation studies the problems with a wide variety of information scenarios, including delayed global information, real-time local information, pre-trip global information, no online information, and trajectory information. It is shown that, for the first four partial information scenarios, Bellman's principle of optimality does not hold. A heuristic algorithm is developed and employed based on a set of necessary conditions for optimality. The same algorithm is showed to be exact for the perfect online information scenario. For optimal adaptive routing problem with trajectory information, this dissertation proves that, if the routing policy is defined in a similar way to other four information scenarios, i.e., the trajectory information is included in the state variable, Bellman's principle of optimality is valid. However, this definition results in a prohibitively large number of the states and the computation can hardly be carried out. The dissertation provides a recursive definition for the trajectory-adaptive routing policy, for which the information is not included in the state variable. In this way, the number of states is small, but Bellman's principle of optimality or non-dominance is invalid for a similar reason as in the optimal path problem. Again purity is introduced to the trajectory-adaptive routing policy and an exact algorithm is designed based on the concept of decreasing order of time.

Subject Area

Civil engineering|Transportation planning

Recommended Citation

Huang, He, "Real-time information and correlations for optimal routing in stochastic networks" (2011). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3498349.