Collaborative ResearchCollaborative Research

Active One-to-One Research Projects

Engineering Systems and Management

Strategically Adaptive Sustainable Mobility System

Professor Alex Pentland
Professor Christopher Zegras

Professor Alex Pentland
Professor Abdulla Galadari
PI at Masdar Institute


This research has two primary, inter-related objectives. First, we want to formalize techniques for accounting for uncertainty in integrated models and understand how the effects of accounting for that uncertainty might change decision-making. We believe this can lead to more robust decision-making (e.g., Eustace et al., 2012; Goodings Swartz and Zegras, 2013). Our effort will focus on improving our understanding of the relative effects of several forms of uncertainty:

  • exogenous uncertainty, or that arising from factors outside the model system like public policy, world economy, fuel prices, etc.;
  • endogenous uncertainty, or that arising from uncertainty regarding the interactions within the model (e.g., the behavioral parameters);
  • model uncertainty, which can be broken down to functional uncertainty (the functional form of the model) and structural uncertainty (the way the model is defined and the way it interacts with other models); and,
  • intervention uncertainty, related to the timing, scope, and scale of policies and investments in the land-use and transportation system.

Our second objective is to understand how we can mitigate such uncertainty through the use of better decision-making methods (such as real options (e.g., Brand et al. 2000) and regret theory), allowing decision-makers to choose interventions that enable them to better adapt to future changes. This will lead to more resilient systems, understood as systems that reflect both robust and flexible characteristics. By explicitly adding resilience to system analysis, we aim to provide a tool for decision-makers that allows them to mitigate risk and take advantage of future opportunities. Transportation and mobility-related technologies will certainly change over the coming decades and these changes themselves are uncertainties that can affect system behavior as well as the interventions decision-makers might choose for the system.


Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Vision 2030 promotes the development of sustainable transportation networks. Abu Dhabi's vision looks into sustainable, measured growth, while taking into consideration urban development, the economy, and the environment. This research addresses transportation networks within these contexts. It will build a model that Abu Dhabi's Executive Council can utilize in the decision-making process, taking into consideration strategic level policy-making for sustainable urban growth. Part of Abu Dhabi's Vision 2030 is to ensure appropriate transit and infrastructure for land use development that supports economic growth and building a world-class transportation system. This research contributes directly to this vision by researching the techniques that befit the goals of Abu Dhabi.