IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Discrete choice theory, information theory and the multinomial logit and gravity models


  • Anas, Alex


The strong "similarity" between "information minimizing" and "utility maximizing" models of spatial interaction has been known for some time (see Anas 1975, Williams, 1977), but the extent of this "similarity" has been underestimated. This paper proves that the two approaches are identical in that the multinomial logit model can be derived and identically estimated by either method. It is also proved that the doubly-constrained gravity model derived by Wilson (1967) is identical to a multinomial logit model of joint origin-destination choice, consistent with stochastic utility maximization. It follows that behaviorally valid "gravity models" can be estimated from disaggregated data on individual choices. In closure, "behavioral demand modeling", which follows McFadden (1973), and "entropy-maximizing modeling", which follows Wilson (1967), should be seen as two equivalent views of the same problem. The behavioral content of models estimated by either approach is entirely determined by the model specification and data aggregation beliefs of the analysts, and not by any inherent structural property of the models themselves.

Suggested Citation

  • Anas, Alex, 1983. "Discrete choice theory, information theory and the multinomial logit and gravity models," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 13-23, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transb:v:17:y:1983:i:1:p:13-23

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:transb:v:17:y:1983:i:1:p:13-23. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.