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The Emergence of Hierarchy in Transportation Networks

  • Bhanu Yerra
  • David Levinson


    (Nexus (Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems) Research Group, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota)

A transportation network is a complex system that exhibits the properties of self-organization and emergence. Previous research in dynamics related to transportation networks focuses on traffic assignment or traffic management. This research concentrates on the dynamics of the orientation of major roads in a network andabstractly models these dynamics to understand the basic properties of transportation networks. A model is developed to capture the dynamics that leads to a hierarchicalarrangement of roads for a given network structure and land use distribution. Localized investment rules - revenue produced by traffic on a link is invested for that link's own development - are employed. Under reasonable parameters, these investment rules, coupled with traveler behavior, and underlying network topology result in the emergenceof a hierarchical pattern. Hypothetical networks subject to certain conditions are tested with this model to explore the network properties. Though hierarchies seem to be designed by planners and engineers, the results show that they are intrinsic properties of networks. Also, the results show that roads, specific routes with continuous attributes, are emergent properties of transportation networks.

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Paper provided by University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group in its series Working Papers with number 200507.

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Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Annals of Regional Science 39(3) pp. 541-553.
Handle: RePEc:nex:wpaper:emergence
Contact details of provider: Postal: Dept. of Civil Engineering, 500 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455
Phone: +01 (612) 625-6354
Fax: +01 (612) 626-7750
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