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An Efficient Simulation-Based Travel Demand Calibration Algorithm for Large-Scale Metropolitan Traffic Models

Yechen Li
Yi-fan Chen
Ziheng Lin
(2021) (to appear)


Metropolitan scale vehicular traffic modeling is used by a variety of private and public sector urban mobil-ity stakeholders to inform the design and operations of road networks. High-resolution stochastic traffic simulators are increasingly used to describe detailed demand-supply interactions. The design of efficient calibration techniques remains a major challenge. This paper considers a class of high-dimensional calibration problems known as origin-destination (OD) calibration. We formulate the problem as a continuous simulation-based optimization problem. Our proposed algorithm builds upon recent metamodel methods that tackle the simulation-based problem by solving a sequence of approximate analytical optimization problems, which rely on the use of analytical network models. In this paper, we formulate a network model defined as a system of linear equations, the dimension of which scales linearly with the number of roads in the network and independently of the dimension of the route choice set. This makes the approach suitable for large-scale metropolitan networks. The approach has enhanced efficiency compared with past metamodel formulations that are based on systems of nonlinear, rather than linear, equations. It also has enhanced efficiency compared to traditional calibration methods that resort to simulation-based estimates of traffic assignment matrices, while the proposed approach uses analytical approximations of these matrices. We benchmark the approach considering a peak period Salt Lake City case study and calibrate based on field vehicular count data. The new formulation yields solutions with good performance, reduces the compute time needed, is suitable for large-scale road networks, and can be readily extended to account for other types of field data sources.