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Talk: Optimizing Transportation Networks

2/3/17 4:15pm to 5:00pm

Carol Downes, Rice University

Optimizing Transportation Networks

In this talk, we explore different models for transportation networks. Human-made transportation networks should reflect nature's example by favoring branching structures for efficiency (e.g. cardiovascular systems and tree root systems). Thus, we want to construct networks that minimize cost while accounting for efficiencies of scale—i.e., the cost per pound for transporting freight decreases as the amount of freight increases. However, algorithmically finding optimal cost networks in this vein proves difficult. We present a new strategy for searching for optimal transportation networks and then, conclude by asking how we may apply optimal transportation theory to other fields.