A unified spatio-temporal model for short-term traffic flow prediction

Peibo Duan, Guoqiang Mao, Weifa Liang, Degan Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


This paper proposes a unified spatio-temporal model for short-term road traffic prediction. The contributions of this paper are as follows. First, we develop a physically intuitive approach to traffic prediction that captures the time-varying spatio-temporal correlation between traffic at different measurement points. The spatio-temporal correlation is affected by the road network topology, time-varying speed, and time-varying trip distribution. Distinctly different from previous black-box approaches to road traffic modeling and prediction, parameters of the proposed approach have physically intuitive meanings which make them readily amendable to suit changing road and traffic conditions. Second, unlike some existing techniques that capture the variation of spatio-temporal correlation by a complete re-design and calibration of the model, the proposed approach uses a unified model that incorporates the physical factors potentially affecting the variation of spatio-temporal correlation into a series of parameters. These parameters are relatively easy to control and adjust when road and traffic conditions change, thereby greatly reducing the computational complexity. Experiments using two sets of real traffic traces demonstrate that the proposed approach has superior accuracy compared with the widely used space-time autoregressive integrated moving average (STARIMA) and the back propagation neural network approaches, and is only marginally inferior to that obtained by constructing multiple STARIMA models for different times of the day, however, with a much reduced computational and implementation complexity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3212-3223
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • digraph
  • Spatio-temporal correlation
  • time-varying lag
  • trip distribution
  • unified

Cite this