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Math Australia Transportation Science

Aussie Government Competition To Predict Commute Times 79

databuff writes "Last week, Sydney's Minister of Roads, David Borger, launched a $10,000 competition to develop an algorithm that predicts commute times on a major Sydney freeway. The winning algorithm will be used to power predictions on the Sydney live traffic website. The hope is that the predictions will help commuters make informed decisions about when to travel and on what routes, lowering the intensity of peak hour traffic. In its first week, the competition attracted entries from more than 50 teams and 19 countries."
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Aussie Government Competition To Predict Commute Times

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  • Self defying (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ignatius (6850) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @05:53AM (#34415066)

    Predicting commute times and keeping the results secrets vs. predicting commute time and putting them in real time on a public website are two completely different problems. The former ist simply about estimating an output parameter from a set of input parameters so it's basically about approximating a function. The latter contains a nasty feedback loop as the output paramter is in itself an input parameter as it influences the behaviour of the system, so you're basically looking for a fixed point where the publication of the forecast exactly repells as many drivers at it attracts - only these values allow for a stable prognosis. In economics this effect is known as Goodhart's law [wikipedia.org].

    This means that the competition is about a completly different (and much simpler) problem to that which they are eventually trying to solve.

    ignatius

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