A big data approach for clustering and calibration of link fundamental diagrams for large-scale network simulation applications

Ziyuan Gu, Meead Saberi, Majid Sarvi, Zhiyuan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Existing methods for calibrating link fundamental diagrams (FDs) often focus on a limited number of links and use grouping strategies that are largely dependent on roadway physical attributes alone. In this study, we propose a big data-driven two-stage clustering framework to calibrate link FDs for freeway networks. The first stage captures, under normal traffic state, the variations of link FDs over multiple days based on which links are clustered in the second stage. Two methods, i.e. the standard k-means algorithm combined with hierarchical clustering and a modified hierarchical clustering based on the Fréchet distance, are applied in the first stage to obtain the FD parameter matrix for each link. The calibrated matrices are input into the second stage where the modified hierarchical clustering is re-employed as. a static approach resulting in multiple clusters of links. To further consider the variations of link FDs, the static approach is extended by modifying the similarity measure through the principle component analysis (PCA). The resulting multivariate time-series clustering models the distributions of the FD parameters as. a dynamic approach. The proposed framework is applied on the Melbourne freeway network using one-year worth of loop detector data. Results have shown that (a) similar roadway physical attributes do not necessarily result in similar link FDs, (b) the connectivity-based approach performs better in clustering link FDs as compared with the centroid-based approach, and (c) the proposed framework helps achieving a better understanding of the spatial distribution of links with similar FDs and the associated variations and distributions of the FD parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-171
Number of pages21
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Big traffic data
  • Calibration
  • Clustering
  • Fréchet distance
  • Link fundamental diagram
  • Traffic dynamics

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