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Network architecture and traffic flows: Experiments on the Pigou-Knight-Downs and Braess Paradoxes

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  • Morgan, John
  • Orzen, Henrik
  • Sefton, Martin

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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  • Morgan, John & Orzen, Henrik & Sefton, Martin, 2009. "Network architecture and traffic flows: Experiments on the Pigou-Knight-Downs and Braess Paradoxes," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 348-372, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:66:y:2009:i:1:p:348-372
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    Cited by:

    1. Vinayak Dixit & Laurent Denant-Boemont, 2014. "Is Equilibrium in Transport Pure Nash, Mixed or Stochastic? Evidence from Laboratory Experiments," Post-Print halshs-01103472, HAL.
    2. 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 2149-2176, December.
    3. repec:eee:phsmap:v:483:y:2017:i:c:p:74-82 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Takashi Yamada & Nobuyuki Hanaki, 2016. "An Experiment on Lowest Unique Integer Games," Post-Print halshs-01204814, HAL.
    5. Yamada, Takashi & Hanaki, Nobuyuki, 2016. "An experiment on Lowest Unique Integer Games," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 463(C), pages 88-102.
    6. Emmanuel Dechenaux & Shakun Mago & Laura Razzolini, 2014. "Traffic congestion: an experimental study of the Downs-Thomson paradox," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 17(3), pages 461-487, September.
    7. 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.
    8. Tanjim Hossain & Dylan Minor & John Morgan, 2011. "Competing Matchmakers: An Experimental Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(11), pages 1913-1925, November.
    9. 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.
    10. Rapoport, Amnon & Gisches, Eyran J. & Daniel, Terry & Lindsey, Robin, 2014. "Pre-trip information and route-choice decisions with stochastic travel conditions: Experiment," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 154-172.
    11. Farokhi, Farhad & Johansson, Karl H., 2015. "A piecewise-constant congestion taxing policy for repeated routing games," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 123-143.

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