Self-organized natural roads for predicting traffic flow: A sensitivity study

Bin Jiang, Sijian Zhao, Junjun Yin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


In this paper, we extended road-based topological analysis to both nationwide and urban road networks, and concentrated on a sensitivity study with respect to the formation of self-organized natural roads based on the Gestalt principle of good continuity. Both annual average daily traffic (AADT) and global positioning system (GPS) data were used to correlate with a series of ranking metrics including five centrality-based metrics and two PageRank metrics. It was found that there exists a tipping point from segment-based to road-based network topology in terms of correlation between ranking metrics and their traffic. To our great surprise, (1)this correlation is significantly improved if a selfish rather than utopian strategy is adopted in forming the self-organized natural roads, and (2)point-based metrics assigned by summation into individual roads tend to have a much better correlation with traffic flow than line-based metrics. These counter-intuitive surprising findings constitute emergent properties of self-organized natural roads, which are intelligent enough for predicting traffic flow, thus shedding substantial light on the understanding of road networks and their traffic from the perspective of complex networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberP07008
JournalJournal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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