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Approaching the Limit of Predictability in Human Mobility

> Xin Lu, 

> Erik Wetter, 

> Nita Bharti, 

> Andrew J. Tatem 

.         &
> Linus Bengtsson

In this study we analyze the travel patterns of 500,000 individuals in Cote
d'Ivoire using mobile phone call data records. By measuring the
uncertainties of movements using entropy, considering both the frequencies
and temporal correlations of individual trajectories, we find that the
theoretical maximum predictability is as high as 88%. To verify whether such
a theoretical limit can be approached, we implement a series of Markov chain
(MC) based models to predict the actual locations visited by each user.
Results show that MC models can produce a prediction accuracy of 87% for
stationary trajectories and 95% for non-stationary trajectories. Our
findings indicate that human mobility is highly dependent on historical
behaviors, and that the maximum predictability is not only a fundamental
theoretical limit for potential predictive power, but also an approachable
target for actual prediction accuracy.




Prof. Ilan Talmud, Ph.D.

Head, Economic Sociology, 

Department of Sociology and Anthropology,

University of Haifa

Phones: 972-4--8240992 (direct)

972-4-8240995 / 8249505 (secretaries)

Fax: 972-4-8240819 <>



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