Northwestern University

Thu 4:00 PM

NUTC Seminar: "Agent-Based Activity/Travel Microsimulation: What’s Next?" - Eric Miller, University of Toronto


When: Thursday, November 2, 2017
4:00 PM - 5:15 PM  

Where: Chambers Hall, Lower Level, 600 Foster St, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: FREE & open to the public

Contact: Diana Marek   847.491.2280

Group: Northwestern University Transportation Center

Category: Academic

More Info


Northwestern University Transportation Center presents:

"Agent-Based Activity/Travel Microsimulation: What’s Next?"

Eric Miller
Professor, Department of Civil Engineering - Director, University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute (UTTRI), University of Toronto



Activity/tour-based models of urban travel demand are increasingly be used in operational planning practice. These are generally implemented within a microsimulation framework, in which out-of-home activity participation and the associated travel are modelled for individual trip-makers (agents). These operational model systems are the product of over 40 years of research and development, dating back at least to calls in the 1970’s for an activity-based approach to modelling travel demand. They are also built upon the tremendous advances that have been made over this same time period in disaggregate, random utility modelling, computer hardware and software, and GIS-based spatial-temporal datasets, among other factors.

The rapidly growing availability of “big data” concerning travel behaviour from a variety of sources, continuing growth in computing capabilities, and ever-changing (and increasingly challenging) policy analysis issues (autonomous vehicles, new services such as car/bike sharing, increasing emphasis on active transportation, etc.) create both the opportunity and the need to continue to develop more advanced, robust travel demand modelling methods to help guide the continuing explosive growth of urban regions in Asia and worldwide along more sustainable paths.

Agent-based microsimulation (ABM) provides an extremely flexible, powerful and efficient means for modelling complex spatial-temporal, socio-economic behaviour such as travel. The current operational models represent a sound “first generation” of such methods, but they are far from realizing the full potential of the ABM concept. After first briefly characterizing the ABM approach and the current state of art/practice, this presentation explores a number of needs and opportunities for future evolution of ABM activity/travel modelling.

Topics discussed will include:
• Dynamics (memory, inertia, state dependencies, adaptation, etc.).
• Heterogeneity.
• Inter-agent interactions (within household and between households).
• Mode and route choice modelling (transit, active transportation, new modes).
• Activity episode utility (why do we travel?).
• Issues in modelling spatial choice (activity episode locations).
• Modelling intercity (long-distance) travel.



Professor Eric J. Miller has BASc and MASc degrees from the University of Toronto and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He been a faculty member in the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto since 1983, where he is currently Director of the University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute. He served as Acting Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering during 1998-99, 2003 and 2007 and was the inaugural Director of the University of Toronto Cities Centre (2008-2012). He is also Director of the University’s Data Management Group, which is responsible for the largest travel survey data collection and management program in Canada, and the Travel Modelling Group, which works closely with transportation agencies in the Toronto region in improving the operational state of travel demand modelling practice in the region. He is past-Chair of the U.S. Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Travel Behavior and Values, the International Association for Travel Behaviour Research and the TRB Sub-Committee on Integrated Transportation – Land Use Modeling. He is a Member Emeritus of the TRB Transportation Demand Forecasting Committee. He served on the TRB Task Force on Moving Activity-Based Approaches to Practice and the US National Academy of Sciences Committee for Determination of the State of the Practice in Metropolitan Area Travel Forecasting. He has chaired or been a member of numerous intercity travel demand modelling peer review panels throughout North America, including current membership on the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s Ridership Technical Advisory Panel. Professor Miller is the recipient of the 2009 Wilbur S. Smith Distinguished Educator Award from the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the inaugural winner of the University of British Columbia Margolese National Design for Living Award (2012). Professor Miller is the developer of GTAModel, a state-of-the-art activity-based microsimulation regional travel demand modeling system used by the Cities of Toronto and Mississauga to forecast travel demand in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area (GTHA) and ILUTE, an integrated land use – travel demand model system for the GTHA. His international experience includes transit planning in Cairo, travel demand model development in Mumbai and Hyderabad, and currently he is working on urban mobility solutions for Latin American cities in Paraguay and Uruguay. He is co-author of the textbook Urban Transportation Planning: A Decision-Oriented Approach, the third edition of which was recently released in e-book format.

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