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(December 4, 2018)

1. Project Title: Dynamic Redistribution of Demand for Peak Hour Congestion Management

Mentor: Dr. Supriyo GHOSH and Dr. Malika MEGHANI

Email Address: supriyo@smart.mit.edu and malika@smart.mit.edu

Overview: This project provides a new perspective for congestion management in public

transport network during peak commuting hours. To tackle the congestion delay caused by

uneven distribution of commuters’ demand, we need to take a global view of the entire

network-wide spatio-temporal demand while recommending individual routes to

commuters. In this project, we aim to develop light weighted optimization tools to decide

upon the best possible routes for commuters that minimizes the congestion delay in the

entire city network by employing techniques from Machine Learning and Operation

Research.

python (preferred) or Java/C++.

Goals: To learn demand patterns from historical real-world data and design fast heuristic

or optimization methods for route recommendation.

References: NIL

2. Project Title: Rebalancing Dockless Bike Sharing Systems for Dynamic Matching of Supply

and Demand

Mentor: Dr. Supriyo GHOSH

Email Address: supriyo@smart.mit.edu

Overview: Bike-sharing systems are widely adopted in major cities of the world. While

many existing works proposed solutions to reposition the idle bikes from congested station

to empty station using carrier vehicles, this resource matching problem between demand

and supply of bikes is still challenging in case of dockless bike-sharing systems (mainly

deployed in Asian cities). Our goal for this project is to design optimization models to find

the routing (for carrier vehicles) and repositioning (how many bikes to pickup/drop-off)

solution for the dockless bike-sharing systems. Our goal also includes reduction of carbon

emission by the carrier vehicles while designing this solution.

Java/C++.

FM_SMURF_Summer 2019_ 1

Research Projects in the SMART FM IRG

(December 4, 2018)

Goals: To learn the customer demand from historical data of three dockless bike-sharing

operators. We also expect to design some initial optimization models for solving the bike

repositioning problem during this period.

References: NIL

Mentor: Andre ROMANO ALHO

Email Address: andre.romano@smart.mit.edu

Overview: Logistics and goods movement are essential parts of our economy and

communities. Growth in commodity and freight vehicle movements is expected for the

next decades, particularly due to the increased relevance of e-commerce. However, there

are concerns over the externalities generated by freight vehicles (pollution, congestion due

to poor parking practices, inefficient operations, etc.) and several policy and regulatory

measures are often times put forward as potential solutions. Simultaneously, changes in

the freight distribution system are taking place, with new modes and services being

deployed. Lastly, being a complex system with conflicting interests between agents

(buyers, receivers, shippers, carriers, etc.), adds to the challenge of evaluating impacts of

system changes at a broad and specific level.

simulation platform that can be used to evaluate policy and “what-if” scenarios. With a

working prototype, we have been applying the platform to real-world policy cases. We aim

to generate insights that to contribute towards a understanding better on how changes to

the status quo result in changes across the freight distribution systems and on their

interactions with passenger travel. Ultimately these insights will allow for freight friendly

policies, in the sense of being appealing to freight parties as well as to the community and

the environment.

and or scripting knowledge (e.g. Python)

FM_SMURF_Summer 2019_ 2

Research Projects in the SMART FM IRG

(December 4, 2018)

Goals:

Become familiar with agent-based models and their role in making policy evaluations.

Configure and apply SimMobility Freight models to “what-if” scenarios as per

requirements at time of internship.

Critically analyse model outputs, generate reports and insights.

Propose follow up research tracks.

Present findings to an audience of fellow researchers.

References: https://its.mit.edu/simmobility-freight-0

Mentor: Simon OH

Email Address: simon@smart.mit.edu

companies have changed the way we view the urban mobility system. Technology and

business trends involving big data, machine learning, electrification, connectivity, and

autonomy are set to bring additional opportunities to increase accessibility and mobility in

urban areas. Particularly, in Singapore, the Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand (AMOD)

system emerges as one of the promising alternatives which has enormous potentials and is

rapidly embracing new business models on the shared mobility, on-demand ride-hailing,

seamless multimodality. Moreover, municipalities are looking for ways to include the

autonomous mobility services within public transport to overcome the land-scarce urban

environment where the desire for car-ownership has to be balanced against traffic

congestion and overall journey time. The initial effort on implementing the autonomous

mobility solution predates to the creation of the Committee on Autonomous Road

Transport for Singapore (CARTS, 2014) that aims to provide guidance on the research

development and deployment of autonomous mobility for Singapore.

Making the AMOD solution as an integrated part of the mobility system is known to reduce

inequality, especially when increasing accessibility of travelers to public transit and

impacting car-ownership behavior. Yet, for a successful integration, it is crucial to properly

understand the implication of this new mobility service under the Singapore context for

both demand and supply. To this aim, SimMobility was developed by SMART FM to

simulate of the effects of a portfolio of technology, policy and investment options under

alternative future scenarios. It features (1) detailed interactions between the agents of

demand (travelers) and supply (facility and the transportation operations) and (2)

multiscale evaluations in time and space, comprising three primary modules (Short-term,

Mid-term, and Long-term) in which we consider different decision-making levels of an

urban system.

FM_SMURF_Summer 2019_ 3

Research Projects in the SMART FM IRG

(December 4, 2018)

Python, R, Matlab); Data/statistical analysis;

Goals:

Design and formulation of AMOD service (i.e. Routing and matching) within given

operational constraints

Implementation and testing of the formulated AMOD solutions

Simulation study with SimMobility over different service and policy configurations.

Turn simulation output into scientific knowledge

References: http://its.mit.edu/research/simmobility_v1

5. Project Title: Maximum Entropy Inverse Reinforcement Learning for Route Choice

Prediction

Mentor: Ahn Tien MAI

Email Address: mai.tien@smart.mit.edu

Overview: The project concerns the prediction of routes that a traveller would take in a

transportation network, given an origin and destination (OD) pair and transport mode (e.g., car,

bike or public transport). We are interested in models that are able to assign a probability

distribution over possible paths that the traveller would take. The resulting probability distribution

of paths can be used to predict traffic flows, simulate road users’ path choices or assess travelers’

preferences regarding characteristics of different routes (e.g. travel time, travel cost, number of

crossings). One of the main issues associated with the use of such models is that the set of all

possible paths between an OD pair is typically not possible to enumerate.

We are interested in models based on Markov Decision Process (MDP) and can be used to

infer/learn utility (or reward) functions of road users without the need for path generation. In the

transportation modeling literature, such models are referred to Markovian route choice models,

which are firstly introduced by Fosgerau et al. (2013). These route choice models, interestingly,

share many similarities with maximum entropy inverse reinforcement learning (ME-IRL) models in

the machine learning literature (Ziebart et al., 2008).

In this project, we aim at investigating further the use of ME-IRL models to predict route choice

behavior. More precisely, most of the studies in the context are based on linear-in-parameters

utility functions. Nevertheless, some recent studies show nonlinear utilities may lead in better

prediction performance. So, one of the interesting directions is to use some deep neutral networks

to model the utility functions. This could be also interesting to see whether the nested structure

(Mai et al. 2015) would be useful to improve ME-IRL models.

Python.

FM_SMURF_Summer 2019_ 4

Research Projects in the SMART FM IRG

(December 4, 2018)

Goals: The main goal is to implement and evaluate the prediction performance of ME-IRL

models with different choices of nonlinear utility functions resulted from deep neutral

networks. Another goal is to apply the proposed route choice models to real data sets

collected in Singapore. We also aim at providing packages for the estimation/training of

large-scale route choice models for other researchers and practitioners.

References:

Fosgerau, M., Frejinger, E., and Karlstrom, A. A link based network route choice model with

unrestricted choice set. Transportation Research Part B, 56:70–80, 2013a.

Ziebart, Brian D., et al. "Maximum Entropy Inverse Reinforcement Learning." AAAI. Vol. 8. 2008.

Mai, T., Fosgerau, M., & Frejinger, E. (2015). A nested recursive logit model for route choice

analysis. Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, 75, 100-112.

Wulfmeier, M., Ondruska, P., & Posner, I. (2015). Maximum entropy deep inverse reinforcement

learning. arXiv preprint arXiv:1507.04888.

6. Project Title: Competitive facility location under general random utility models

Mentor: Ahn Tien MAI

Email Address: mai.tien@smart.mit.edu

Overview: This project concerns the facility location problem in a competitive market,

which has been receiving a growing attention in the last decade due to its

appealing properties and applications. The problem concerns how to locate new facilities

in a competitive market such that the captured demand of users is maximized, assuming

that each individual chooses among all available facilities according to a random utility

maximization model (i.e., discrete choice model). In this problem, two aspects are taken

into account, namely, the demand of customers and the competitors in the market. For the

latter, the firms that would like to locate new facilities have to compete for their market

share.

a probabilistic model, i.e., a model that can assign a probability distribution over available

facilities. The random utility maximization is convenient to use in the context. Under this

framework, a random utility is associated with each facility, and a customer is assumed to

choose a facility by maximizing his/her utilities. This way of modeling customers’ behavior

allows to compute the probability that a customer chooses a facility versus other facilities

in the network. Thus, the facility location problem can be described as follows: How to

locate facilities in a competitive market such that the expected market share captured by

the new facilities is maximized (so the problem is also called as the “maximum

capture” problem).

FM_SMURF_Summer 2019_ 5

Research Projects in the SMART FM IRG

(December 4, 2018)

The main challenge lies in the fact that the objective function resulted from the demand

model becomes highly nonlinear. Under the multinomial logit model (MNL), the objective

function is convex, so one can use a global approach (e.g., outer approximation, Branch-

and-Cut). However, it is well-known that the MNL has some limits and there are more

flexible demand models that have been developed over the recent decades, i.e., mixed-

MNL, nested logit and Multivariate Extreme Value (MEV) models. Nevertheless, the use of

such models would result in nonlinear and non-convex optimization problems, which are

indeed difficult to solve. Due to this issue, existing studies only focus on the MNL or mixed-

MNL models.

In this project, we deal with the competitive facility location problem under general

discrete choice models, including the MEV model and mixed MNL. These demand models

are fully flexible in the sense that they can approximate any random utility models. As

mentioned, the resulting problems are challenging as the corresponding objective

functions are highly nonlinear and non-convex, so heuristics and/or local search

approaches would be interesting to investigate.

Goals: We aim at studying the structure of the objective function under a general discrete

choice model, i.e., the mixed-MNL or MEV models. The ultimate goal is to have an efficient

algorithm that would be able to give good facility location solutions in reasonable

computing time.

References:

Ben-Akiva, M. and Lerman, S. R. Discrete Choice Analysis: Theory and Application to

Travel Demand. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1985

Benati, S. and Hansen, P. The maximum capture problem with random utilities:

Problem formulation and algorithms.

European Journal of Operational Research, 143(3):518–530, 2002.

7. Project Title: A New Solution Method for the Facility Location Problem under Random

Utility Models

Mentor: Ahn Tien MAI

Email Address: mai.tien@smart.mit.edu

Overview: This project concerns the facility location problem in competitive market,

which has been receiving a growing attention in the last decade due to its

appealing properties and applications. The problem concerns how to locate new facilities

in a competitive market such that the captured demand of users is maximized, assuming

that each individual chooses among all available facilities according to a random utility

FM_SMURF_Summer 2019_ 6

Research Projects in the SMART FM IRG

(December 4, 2018)

maximization model (i.e., discrete choice models). In this problem, two aspects are taken

into account, namely, the demand of customers and the competitors in the market. For the

latter, the companies that would like to locate new facilities have to compete for their

market share.

a probabilistic model, i.e., a model that can assign a probability distribution over the

available facilities. The random utility maximization is convenient to use in the context.

Under this framework, a random utility is associated with each facility, and a customer is

assumed to choose a facility by maximizing his/her utilities. This way of modeling

customers’ behavior allows us to compute the probability that a customer chooses a

facility versus other facilities in the network. Thus, the facility location problem can be

described as follows: How to locate facilities in a competitive market such that the

expected market share captured by the new facilities is maximized (so the problem is

also called as the “maximum capture” problem).

In this project, we focus on the maximum capture problems under the MNL and mixed-

MNL models. Such problems have an advantage that the objective function is convex.

Moreover, it can be expressed as a sum of convex functions. Benefitting from this fact, we

aim at exploring this separable structure to design new solution algorithms that allow to

efficiently solve instances of large number of locations and clients.

Goals: The main goal is to have a new global algorithm for the maximum capture problem

under the MNL and mixed-MNL models. The new algorithm should be able to perform well

on large-scale instances and outperforms state-of-the-art approaches.

References:

Ben-Akiva, M. and Lerman, S. R. Discrete Choice Analysis: Theory and Application to

Travel Demand. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1985

Benati, S. and Hansen, P. The maximum capture problem with random utilities:

Problem formulation and algorithms. European Journal of Operational Research,

143(3):518–530, 2002.

Ljubic, I. and Moreno, E. Outer approximation and submodular cuts for

maximum capture facility location problems with random utilities. European Journal of

Operational Research, 266(1):46–56, 2018.

Bonami, P., Biegler, L. T., Conn, A. R., Cornuejols, G., Grossmann, I. E., Laird, C. D., Lee,

J., Lodi, A., Margot, F., Sawaya, N., et al. An algorithmic framework for convex mixed

integer nonlinear programs. Discrete Optimization, 5(2):186–204, 2008.

FM_SMURF_Summer 2019_ 7

Research Projects in the SMART FM IRG

(December 4, 2018)

8. Project Title: Rollout Algorithms for Decision-Making under Random Utility Models

Mentor: Ahn Tien MAI

Email Address: mai.tien@smart.mit.edu

needs to use a demand model to predict customers’ behavior. Then, this demand model

can be integrated into an optimization model for decision-making. Such problems have

been widely studied in revenue management and location analysis, e.g., assortment

planning and facility location in competitive markets. The former refers to the problem of

selecting a subset of items that maximizes the expected revenue, and the latter is the

problem of seeking to locate new facilities in a competitive market such that the captured

demand of users is maximized. For the both problems, a typical approach is to formulate

the decision-making problem as a mixed-integer nonlinear programming model, in which

the decision variables are often binary. Under some specific settings, one can formulate

the problem as a mixed-integer linear program, which is convenient to be solved. In

general, such problems are difficult to deal with due to the fact that the objective functions

are often highly nonlinear and non-convex.

In this project, we explore a new way to solve the nonlinear binary optimization problems.

More precisely, we view the decision-making problem as a sequential optimization

problem whereby the decision variables are optimized one after the other. This approach

is referred to rollout algorithms that are originated in dynamic programing. The rollout

approach already have several applications in discrete optimization, e.g., stochastic

scheduling, network optimization. We expect that this approach would be an efficient

alternative to other existing approaches to deal with decision-making problems under

random utility maximization models.

Goals: The main goal is to develop a rollout algorithm to solve the choice-based

optimization problems mentioned above (assortment planning and facility location under

random utility models).

References:

Ben-Akiva, M. and Lerman, S. R. Discrete Choice Analysis: Theory and Application to

Travel Demand. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1985

Benati, S. and Hansen, P. The maximum capture problem with random utilities:

Problem formulation and algorithms. European Journal of Operational Research,

143(3):518–530, 2002.

FM_SMURF_Summer 2019_ 8

Research Projects in the SMART FM IRG

(December 4, 2018)

Talluri, K. and Van Ryzin, G., Revenue management under a general discrete choice

model of consumer behavior. Management Science, 50 (1): 15--33, 2004.

Bertsekas, D. P. (2013). Rollout algorithms for discrete optimization: A survey.

In Handbook of Combinatorial Optimization (pp. 2989-3013). Springer, New York, NY.

FM_SMURF_Summer 2019_ 9

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