Friday, February 11, 2011

AAAS Annual Meeting in DC and Collective Behavior Symposium

The AAAS Annual Meeting is taking place next week (and weekend) in Washington DC, February 17-21, 2011.

This year's theme: Science Without Borders will integrate the practice of science, both in research and teaching, that uses multidisciplinary approaches to problem solving, crosses conventional borders, and takes into consideration the diversity of investigators and students. The program will feature sessions with strong scientific content across many science and engineering fields.

About 1,000 scientists will present multidisciplinary research and developments to nearly 8,000 meeting attendees, so there will be great networking opportunities!

I am especially delighted by the symposia that have been organized under fascinating themes and will be a speaker in the Mathematics and Collective Behavior Symposium as part of the Emerging Science and Technology track. This symposium was organized by Dr. Warren Page, whom I met following the Traffic panel that I was on at the World Science Festival (WSF) in NYC in June 2009. Joining me at this symposium will be Dr. Iain Couzin of Princeton University (who was a fellow panelist of mine at the WSF) and Dr. Pierre Degond of Paul Sabatier University in France. Dr. Andrea Bertozzi of UCLA was scheduled to participate but will not be able to.

My presentation title and abstract are:

User-optimized and System-optimized Travel Behavior

Flows on physical networks, ranging from congested urban transportation networks to the Internet, are the result of users interacting with one another and the infrastructure. User-optimized travel behavior and system-optimized travel behavior result in entirely different flow patterns, with implications for congestion engineers and network designers. User-optimized behavior (sometimes referred to as selfish behavior) corresponds to travelers selecting individually their cost-minimizing routes of travel. In system-optimized (unselfish) behavior, a central controller routes the traffic in a manner that minimizes the total cost to society. Under user-optimized behavior, the addition of a new link to a network may increase the travel cost to every user. This counterintuitive phenomenon is known as the Braess paradox. We will discuss the relevance of this paradox to both transportation networks and the Internet, and demonstrate that the paradox may correct itself as the network’s demand increases.

I'll be sure to write about m experiences in DC at the AAAS meeting, as I did about the Transportation Research Board meeting in DC just last month!