The origin of heterogeneity in human mobility

Day - Time: 25 October 2013, h.11:00
Place: Area della Ricerca CNR di Pisa - Room: C-29
  • Luca Pappalardo (Dipartimento d'Informatica - Università di Pisa)

Andrea Esuli


Researchers recently discovered that traditional mobility models adapted from the observation of particles or animals (such as Brownian motion and Levy-flights), and recently from the observation of dollar bills, are not suitable to describe people's movements. Indeed, at a global scale humans are characterized by a huge heterogeneity in the way they move, since a Pareto-like curve was observed in the distribution of the characteristic distance traveled by users, the so called radius of gyration. Although these discoveries have doubtless shed light on interesting and fascinating aspects about human mobility, the origin of the observed patterns still remains unclear: Why do we move so differently? What are the factors that shape our mobility? What are the movements or the locations that mainly determine the mobility of an individual? Can we divide the population into categories of users with similar mobility characteristics? The above issues need to be addressed, if we want to understand key aspects about the complexity behind our society. In the current work, we exploit the access to two big mobility datasets to present a data-driven study aimed to detect and understand the main features that shape the mobility of individuals. By using a dualistic approach that combines strengths and weakness of network science and data mining, we show how the mobility of a significant portion of population is characterized by the patterns of commuting between different and distant mobility "hearts".