Performance of Machine Learning Algorithms in Predicting the Pavement International Roughness Index

Significant research efforts have documented the capabilities of machine learning (ML) algorithms to model pavement performance. Several challenges, however, limit the implementation of ML by practitioners and transportation agencies. One of these challenges is related to the high variability in the performance of ML models as reported by different studies and the lack of quantitative evidence supporting the true effectiveness of these techniques. The objective of this paper is twofold: to assess the overall performance of traditional and ML techniques used to predict pavement condition, and to provide guidance on the optimal architecture and minimum sample size required to develop these models. This paper analyzes three ML algorithms commonly used to predict International Roughness Index (IRI)—Artificial Neural Network (ANN), Random Forest (RF), and Support Vector Machine (SVM)—and compares their performance to traditional techniques. An inverse variance heterogeneity based meta-analysis is performed on 20 studies conducted between 2001 and 2020. The results indicate that ML algorithms capture on average 15.6% more variability than traditional techniques. RF is the most accurate technique with an overall performance value of 0.995. ANN is also identified as a highly effective technique that has been widely used and provides accurate predictions with both small and large sample sizes. For ANN algorithms, a single hidden layer with nodes equal to 0.3–2 times the number of input features is found to be sufficient in predicting pavement deterioration. A minimum sample size equal to 50 times the number of input variables is recommend to model pavement deterioration using ML.


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  • Accession Number: 01762472
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jan 20 2021 3:13PM