Sunday, January 22, 2012

Most Influential Articles on the Economics of Traffic Congestion and Our Translation of the Braess Paradox Article is Included

I had not even realized until this past week that the edited volume, The Economics of Traffic Congestion, containing

the most influential articles written over the past eight decades that contribute to an understanding of the economics of traffic congestion

had been published by Edward Elgar Publishing in its series: the International Library of Critical Writings in Economics.

When I saw the list of articles that had been reprinted, I was struck by the names of the authors, many of whom I cite very regularly in my papers and books since their works are, indeed, classics in transportation.

And then I saw my name on the paper with Braess and Wakolbinger in the first volume; see the contents of Part I of the first volume below, taken from the Edward Elgar page on this book.


Volume I


Introduction Erik T. Verhoef

1. A.C. Pigou (1920), 'Divergences between Marginal Trade Net Product and Marginal Individual Net Product'
2. F. H. Knight (1924), 'Some Fallacies in the Interpretation of Social Cost'
3. John Glen Wardrop (1952), 'Some Theoretical Aspects of Road Traffic Research'
4. Martin Beckmann, C.B. McGuire and Christopher B. Winsten (1956), 'Equilibrium' and 'Efficiency'
5. M.J. Lighthill and G.B. Whitham (1955), 'On Kinematic Waves. II: A Theory of Traffic Flow on Long Crowded Roads'
6. Paul I. Richards (1956), 'Shock Waves on the Highway'
7. A.A. Walters (1961), 'The Theory and Measurement of Private and Social Cost of Highway Congestion'
8. William S. Vickrey (1963), 'Pricing in Urban and Suburban Transport'
9. Dietrich Braess, Anna Nagurney and Tina Wakolbinger (2005), 'On a Paradox of Traffic Planning' [Translated from the German: D. Braess (1968), 'Über ein Paradoxon aus der Verkehrsplanung']

To be in a volume with Pigou, Knight, Wardrop, Beckmann, McGuire, and Winsten, Lighthill, and even the Nobel Laureate Vickrey, is humbling, to say the least.

The full contents of volumes I and II are available here
and what a wonderful list of "classics." Plus, I can say that in this group there are even quite a few still with us that I consider my friends.

We had been approached by the editor of this two volume edition, Eric Verhoef, a while back, and Dietrich Braess, Tina Wakolbinger, and I had given permission to have our article, published originally in 2005, in the journal, Transportation Science (which is an INFORMS journal), reprinted and had gotten the necessary permissions. The article is unusual since it is a translation of the famous Braess (1968) paradox paper from German to English, that was accompanied by a preface written by David E. Boyce and me.

According to the publisher: The first volume explores the classic contributions on congestion and road pricing and includes papers in dynamic models and second-best congestion pricing. The second volume analyses ownership arrangements such as private roads, investment and financing, urban land use, social acceptability and distributional aspects of road pricing.

Professor Dietrich Braess visited the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst shortly after our translation was published. Tina Wakolbinger, who, at the time,was one of my doctoral students at UMass Amherst, and I, along with others had a wonderful time hosting him and he spoke in our UMass Amherst INFORMS Speakers series. Some photos and other information can be found here. Tina is now a Full Professor at the Vienna University of Economics and Business.

This volume also brings forth some of the amazing synergies between economics and operations research, a theme that has always been very dear to me and my research. But then again, Martin Beckmann was on my doctoral dissertation committee at Brown University, with Stella Dafermos as my dissertation chair. George Majda, who, like Stella, died much too young, was my other committee member. Beckmann is still with us and continues to amaze with his mind and love of life.