Cascading Walks Model for Human Mobility Patterns

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Uncovering the mechanism behind the scaling laws and series of anomalies in human trajectories is of fundamental significance in understanding many spatio-temporal phenomena. Recently, several models, e.g. the explorations-returns model (Song et al., 2010) and the radiation model for intercity travels (Simini et al., 2012), have been proposed to study the origin of these anomalies and the prediction of human movements. However, an agent-based model that could reproduce most of empirical observations without priori is still lacking.

Methodology/Principal Findings

In this paper, considering the empirical findings on the correlations of move-lengths and staying time in human trips, we propose a simple model which is mainly based on the cascading processes to capture the human mobility patterns. In this model, each long-range movement activates series of shorter movements that are organized by the law of localized explorations and preferential returns in prescribed region.


Based on the numerical simulations and analytical studies, we show more than five statistical characters that are well consistent with the empirical observations, including several types of scaling anomalies and the ultraslow diffusion properties, implying the cascading processes associated with the localized exploration and preferential returns are indeed a key in the understanding of human mobility activities. Moreover, the model shows both of the diverse individual mobility and aggregated scaling displacements, bridging the micro and macro patterns in human mobility. In summary, our model successfully explains most of empirical findings and provides deeper understandings on the emergence of human mobility patterns.