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Network Architecture and Traffic Flows: Experiments on the Pigou-Knight-Downs and Braess Paradoxes

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  • John Morgan

    ()
    (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Henrik Orzen

    ()
    (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)

  • Martin Sefton

    ()
    (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)

Abstract

This paper presents theory and experiments to investigate how network architecture influences route-choice behavior. We consider changes to networks that, theoretically, exhibit the Pigou- Knight-Downs and Braess Paradoxes. We show that these paradoxes are specific examples of more general classes of network change properties that we term the “least congestible route” and “size” principles, respectively. We find that technical improvements to networks induce adjustments in traffic flows. In the case of network changes based on the Pigou-Knight-Downs Paradox, these adjustments undermine short-term payoff improvements. In the case of network changes based on the Braess Paradox, these adjustments reinforce the counter-intuitive, but theoretically predicted, effect of reducing payoffs to network users. Although aggregate traffic flows are close to equilibrium levels, we see some systematic deviations from equilibrium. We show that the qualitative features of these discrepancies can be accounted for by a simple reinforcement learning model.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham in its series Discussion Papers with number 2007-05.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2007-05

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Cited by:
  1. Terry E. Daniel & Eyran J. Gisches & Amnon Rapoport, 2009. "Departure Times in Y-Shaped Traffic Networks with Multiple Bottlenecks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2149-76, December.
  2. Eyran Gisches & Amnon Rapoport, 2012. "Degrading network capacity may improve performance: private versus public monitoring in the Braess Paradox," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 73(2), pages 267-293, August.
  3. Arvidsson, Niklas, 2013. "The milk run revisited: A load factor paradox with economic and environmental implications for urban freight transport," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 56-62.

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