The Topological Evolution of Road Networks

Road networks evolve into various topologies over time. To explore the topological evolution of a road network, this study develops a simulation model that interprets the dynamics as an iterative process of interaction and reinforcement between independent agents of roads. Each agent invests (disinvests) in itself according to the revenue and cost associated with the predicted through traffic on roads. Starting with idealized networks with different geometrical features and symmetry conditions, six experiments incorporate pre-specified degeneration criteria to remove the least developed link(s) from test networks iteratively as they evolve, resulting in various network topologies during this process. Selected measures of collective network features are computed throughout to track the topological evolution of test networks. Results demonstrate that typical topologies of road networks like ring and hub-and-spoke emerge over time even based on completely decentralized decisions of autonomous roads, and that a certain topological pattern may emerge regardless of the initial conditions or base network structures. These results provide evidence for the claim that the topology of a road network is an emergent property of network dynamics.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: CD-ROM
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 38p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 86th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers CD-ROM

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01047311
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 07-0671
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Feb 8 2007 5:16PM