Google Research

A multi-objective Markov Chain Monte Carlo cellular automata model: Simulating multi-density urban expansion in NYC

  • Ahmed Mustafa
  • Amr Ebaid
  • Hichem Omrani
  • Timon McPhearson
Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, vol. 87 (2021)

Abstract

Cellular automata (CA) models have increasingly been used to simulate land use/cover changes (LUCC). Metaheuristic optimization algorithms such as particle swarm optimization (PSO) and genetic algorithm (GA) have been recently introduced into CA frameworks to generate more accurate simulations. Although Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) is simpler than PSO and GA, it is rarely used to calibrate CA models. In this article, we introduce a novel multi-chain multi-objective MCMC (mc-MO-MCMC) CA model to simulate LUCC. Unlike the classical MCMC, the proposed mc-MO-MCMC is a multiple chains method that imports crossover operation from classical evolutionary optimization algorithms. In each new chain, after the initial one, the crossover operator generates the initial solution. The selection of solutions to be crossed over are made according to their fitness score. In this paper, we chose the example of New York City (USA) to apply our model to simulate three conflicting objectives of changes from non-urban to low-, medium- or high-density urban between 2001 and 2016 using USA National Land Cover Database (NLCD). Elevation, slope, Euclidean distance to highways and local roads, population volume and average household income are used as LUCC causative factors. Furthermore, to demonstrate the efficiency of our proposed model, we compare it with the multi-objective genetic algorithm (MO-GA) and standard single-chain multi-objective MCMC (sc-MO-MCMC). Our results demonstrate that mc-MO-MCMC produces accurate simulations of land use dynamics featured by faster convergence to the Pareto frontier comparing to MO-GA and sc-MO-MCMC. The proposed multi-objective cellular automata model should efficiently help to simulate a trade-off among multiple and, possibly, conflicting land use change dynamics at once.

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