Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies

Cassandra curse for modellers: making true predictions and getting people to listen to them

Professor Stephane Hess, ITS, The University of Leeds

28th Nov 2017  02:00 pm - 03:00 pm Rm 5050, Lvl 5, Abercrombie Building (H70)

Venue: Abercrombie Building (H70) Level 5 - Room 5040 , Corner Abercrombie Street and Codrington Street, The University of Sydney

Stephane Hess

Abstract: Cassandra curse for modellers: making true predictions and getting people to listen to them

Predicting the future is a difficult task, but has always been a fundamental purpose of travel behaviour modelling. The last two decades have seen modellers, especially in academia, shift their efforts away from forecasting towards only modelling and understanding current behaviour. Obvious causes that can be pointed to are the growing reliance on stated preference data and the simple fact that forecasting is more difficult than just modelling the status quo, and harder to validate. A more cynical view is that the modelling community may feel that their predictions are likely to produce inconvenient truths to policy makers that are easy to disregard as “incorrect”. This talk asks the question of a) whether we can predict the future, b) how we can validate our forecasts and c) how we can make policy makers accept forecasts even if they put in doubt their favourite pet projects.

Bio: Stephane Hess is Professor of Choice Modelling in the Institute for Transport Studies and Director of the Choice Modelling Centre at the University of Leeds. He is also Honorary Professor in Choice Modelling in the Institute for Transport and Logistics Studies at the University of Sydney and has a director position at RSG, a leading North American consultancy company. His area of work is the analysis of human decision using advanced discrete choice models, and he is active in the fields of transport, health and environmental economics. Hess has made contributions to the state of the art in the specification, estimation and interpretation of such models, notably in a valuation of travel time context, where has led the modelling on the most recent UK, German and Singaporean national studies, as well as the reestimation of the Swiss study. He has also published over 100 peer reviewed journal papers across different fields, and his contributions have been recognised by a number of major international awards. He is also the founding editor in chief of the Journal of Choice Modelling and the founder and steering committee chair of the International Choice Modelling Conference.