Can cognitive inferences be made from aggregate traffic flow data?

Itzhak Omer*, Bin Jiang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Space syntax analysis or the topological analysis of street networks has illustrated that human traffic flow is highly correlated with some topological centrality measures, implying that human movement at an aggregate level is primarily shaped by the underlying topological structure of street networks. However, this high correlation does not imply that any individual's movement can be predicted by any street network centrality measure. In other words, traffic flow at the aggregate level cannot be used to make inferences about an individual's spatial cognition or conceptualization of space. Based on a set of agent-based simulations using three types of moving agents - topological, angular, and metric - we show that topological-angular centrality measures correlate better than does the metric centrality measure with the aggregate flows of agents who choose the shortest angular, topological or metric routes. We relate the superiority of the topological-angular network effects to the structural relations holding between street network to-movement and through-movement potentials. The study findings indicate that correlations between aggregate flow and street network centrality measures cannot be used to infer knowledge about individuals' spatial cognition during urban movement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-229
Number of pages11
JournalComputers, Environment and Urban Systems
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • Agent-based simulation
  • Cognitive distance
  • Network analysis
  • Space syntax
  • Urban movement


Dive into the research topics of 'Can cognitive inferences be made from aggregate traffic flow data?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this