Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Congestion Games, Evolutionary Dynamics, Transportation, and Professor Martin Beckmann

Research that years after publication is still being cited and that gets discovered by different disciplines is research that needs to be celebrated and those behind it recognized. Solid theoretical research, which is implemented in practice, deserves special kudos.

I was incredibly lucky to have had my doctoral dissertation committee at Brown University consist of Professor Stella Dafermos, as the chair, with Professors Martin Beckmann and George Majda. Both Dafermos and Majda died much too young but left amazing scholarly legacies and impacted many students.

Professor Martin Beckmann, the renowned economist and regional scientist, is still with us and his classic book, with McGuire and Winsten, Studies in the Economics of Transportation (1956), continues to inspire both research and practice.

A quote from the Beckmann, McGuire, and Winsten book appears in the first chapter of William Sandholm's recent book, Population Games and Evolutionary Dynamics, MIT Press.

Beckmann's work has stimulated such areas of research as congestion games, evolutionary dynamics, and the development of analytical methodologies from variational inequalities to projected dynamical systems. His research on the rigorous formulation of user-optimized behavior in congested urban transportation networks is applied around the globe.

You can read more about the impact of the Beckmann, McGuire, and Winsten book, Studies in the Economics of Transportation, in a retrospective paper that I wrote with David E. Boyce and Hani S. Mahmassani.

Last year, Professor Mahmassani organized the Transportation Network Design and Economics Symposium at Northwestern University in honor of Professor Beckmann and you can view the video of his lecture, my lecture on supply chain network design under oligopolistic competition, and Professor Boyce's fascinating lecture on the history of transportation highway design in Chicago here.