Advances in Population Synthesis, the journal article

I’ve finally published my M.A.Sc. thesis as a journal article, under the title Advances in Population Synthesis: fitting many attributes per agent and fitting to household and person margins simultaneously.

This article is the preferred citation going forward; I think it tells the story best:

  • A brief summary of the key contributions described in detail in my thesis
  • A better explanation of the U.S. context and the applicability of this work outside Canada. Statistics Canada goes to great lengths to protect Canadian privacy, and some of my work was motivated by the particular difficulties associated with Canadian census data.

My thesis is still a good source for anyone wanting greater detail, or anyone interested in a clear explanation of some of the Canadian data sources I used.

The Article

David R. Pritchard and Eric J. Miller, “Advances in Population Synthesis: fitting many attributes per agent and fitting to household and person margins simultaneously”.  Transportation 39(3):685-704, May 2012.

[Download: Official version (SpringerLink) | Pre-print PDF (free) | Pre-print HTML]

Agent-based microsimulation models of transportation, land use or other socioeconomic processes require an initial synthetic population derived from census data, conventionally created using the Iterative Proportional Fitting (IPF) procedure. This paper introduces a novel computational method that allows the synthesis of many more attributes and finer attribute categories than previous approaches, both of which are long-standing limitations discussed in the literature. Additionally, a new approach is used to fit household and person zonal attribute distributions simultaneously. This technique was first adopted to address limitations specific to Canadian census data, but could also be useful in U.S. and other applications. The results of each new method are evaluated empirically in terms of goodness-of-fit.

Alternate versions of this work


David R. Pritchard, Synthesizing Agents and Relationships for Land Use/Transportation Modelling. Master’s thesis, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto, 2008.

 The original draft of the journal article was presented at a conference (Transportation Research Board, Jan. 2009) and was not formally published; it’s been completely replaced by the journal article. I’m including the paper citation below here for Google to pick up.

David R. Pritchard and Eric J. Miller, Advances in Agent Population Synthesis and Application in an Integrated Land Use / Transportation Model. Presented at the 88th Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Jan. 2009 (unpublished).

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