Convergence of a Packet Routing Model to Flows over Time


The mathematical approaches for modeling dynamic traffic can roughly be divided into two categories: discrete packet routing models and continuous flow over time models. Despite very vital research activities on models in both categories, the connection between these approaches was poorly understood so far. In this work we build this connection by specifying a (competitive) packet routing model, which is discrete in terms of flow and time, and by proving its convergence to the intensively studied model of flows over time with deterministic queuing. More precisely, we prove that the limit of the convergence process, when decreasing the packet size and time step length in the packet routing model, constitutes a flow over time with multiple commodities. In addition, we show that the convergence result implies the existence of approximate equilibria in the competitive version of the packet routing model. This is of significant interest as exact pure Nash equilibria, similar to almost all other competitive models, cannot be guaranteed in the multi-commodity setting. Moreover, the introduced packet routing model with deterministic queuing is very application-oriented as it is based on the network loading module of the agent-based transport simulation MATSim. As the present work is the first mathematical formalization of this simulation, it provides a theoretical foundation and an environment for provable mathematical statements for MATSim.

Mathematics of Operations Research (MOR)

A preliminary version was presented at the 22nd ACM Conference on Economics and Computation (EC'21).