Each of these issues presents obstacles to the broader understanding, use, and development not only of these models specifically, but to the field of urban modeling more generally.
Recently, the University of California Transportation Center (UCTC) funded the development of a graduate-level course in urban modeling. The challenge of the course was twofold: first, to present urban modeling to a group of students from diverse backgrounds and levels of mathematical and statistical sophistication, and, second, to do it within the limited time frame of a 4-unit, one-quarter class. The course was developed at the University of California, Davis where there already existed separate courses in Travel Demand Modeling and Discrete Choice Analysis and course overlap was discouraged. Consequently, this course did not focus on model estimation, but rather on a survey of existing, operational urban models that have been implemented within the United States. The focus of the course was on modeling frameworks and the benefits and drawbacks of different types of model structure and levels of complexity.
This course is the first of its kind that the authors are aware of. There are at least three other courses that cover urban modeling. For instance, Paul Waddell teaches a course on “Urban Simulation” at the University of Washington, but it appeared from the online syllabus that this course focuses more on model building and estimation and emphasizes a single model, UrbanSim, rather than a diverse selection of modeling frameworks for different uses. The University of Florida also teaches a course that focuses on a single model, the Urban Land Use Allocation Model (ULAM). Both of these courses have a full syllabus or outline available on the internet and were reviewed in the development stage of our course (Web addresses—available as of 7/17/03: