On limits of travel time predictions: Insights from a New York City case study

Raghu Ganti, Mudhakar Srivatsa, Tarek Abdelzaher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

The proliferation of location sensors has resulted in the wide availability of historical location and time data. A prominent use of such data is to develop models to estimate travel-times (between arbitrary points in a city) accurately. The problem of travel-time estimation/prediction has been well studied in the past, where the proposed techniques span a spectrum of statistical methods, such as k-nearest neighbors, Gaussian regression, Artificial Neural Networks, and Support Vector Machines. In this paper, we demonstrate that, contrary to popular intuition, empirical data suggests that simple travel time predictors come very close to the fundamental error bounds achievable in delay prediction. We derive such bounds by estimating entropy that remains in travel time distributions, even after all spatio-temporal delay-influencing factors have been accounted for. Our results are based on analysis of cab traces from New York City, that feature 15 million trips. While we cannot claim generalizability to other cities, the results suggest the diminishing return of complex travel-time predictors due to the inherent nature of uncertainty in trip delays. We demonstrate a simple travel-time predictor, whose error approaches the uncertainty bound. It predicts delay based only on total distance traveled and time-of-day and is close to the optimal solution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Pages166-175
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781479951680
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 29 2014
Event2014 IEEE 34th International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems, ICDCS 2014 - Madrid, Spain
Duration: Jun 30 2014Jul 3 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings - International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems

Other

Other2014 IEEE 34th International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems, ICDCS 2014
CountrySpain
CityMadrid
Period6/30/147/3/14

Keywords

  • Information theory
  • New York city case study
  • Travel time prediction
  • location based services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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  • Cite this

    Ganti, R., Srivatsa, M., & Abdelzaher, T. (2014). On limits of travel time predictions: Insights from a New York City case study. In Proceedings - International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems (pp. 166-175). [6888893] (Proceedings - International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems). Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.. https://doi.org/10.1109/ICDCS.2014.25