A complex network perspective for characterizing urban travel demand patterns: graph theoretical analysis of large-scale origin--destination demand networks

Transportation 44, pages1383–1402


Urban travel demand, consisting of thousands or millions of origin–destination trips, can be viewed as a large-scale weighted directed graph. The paper applies a complex network-motivated approach to understand and characterize urban travel demand patterns through analysis of statistical properties of origin–destination demand networks. We compare selected network characteristics of travel demand patterns in two cities, presenting a comparative network-theoretic analysis of Chicago and Melbourne. The proposed approach develops an interdisciplinary and quantitative framework to understand mobility characteristics in urban areas. The paper explores statistical properties of the complex weighted network of urban trips of the selected cities. We show that travel demand networks exhibit similar properties despite their differences in topography and urban structure. Results provide a quantitative characterization of the network structure of origin–destination demand in cities, suggesting that the underlying dynamical processes in travel demand networks are similar and evolved by the distribution of activities and interaction between places in cities.

Dirk Brockmann
Dirk Brockmann

Head of Research on Complex Systems Group