Economics and Finance

The economics of transportation are incredibly complex; small changes in pricing and efficiency can have substantial ramifications on behavior. Transportation infrastructure projects are among the biggest public investments that we make. How should we fund public transit? What are the impacts of congestion pricing? How can we encourage coordination between ridesharing platforms? MIT researchers are exploring the answers to these important questions and more.

The research labs and faculty working in this area are shown below. You can see a full listing of the people and labs involved with the MIT Mobility Initiative by navigating to the people page and the labs page.

Researchers

Bill Aulet

Professor, Sloan School; Managing Director, Martin Trust Center, MIT

Research Interests:

Entrepreneurship Education, Economics & Business

Peter Belobaba

Principal Research Scientist

Research Interests:

Air Transportation Economics and Operations Analysis, Airline Pricing and Revenue Management

Daniel Freund

Assistant Professor of Operations Management

Research Interests:

Analytics, Combinatorial Optimization, Management Science, Operations Management, Sharing Economy

Jing Li

William Barton Rogers Career Development Professor of Energy Economics

Research Interests:

Industrial Organization, Environmental & Energy Economics

Fred Salvucci

Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Associate

Research Interests:

Infrastructure, Urban Transportation, Public Transportation, Institutional Development in Decision-Making.

Nigel Wilson

Professor Emeritus

Research Interests:

Public Transportation, Transport System Design, New Transportation Systems

Jim Aloisi

Lecturer of Transportation Policy and Planning

Research Interests:

Urban Transportation, Equity, Public Realm Design, Public Transportation Funding and Service Delivery

Joseph F. Coughlin


Director, MIT AgeLab

Research Interests:

Consumer Behavior, Behavioral Science, Global Demographics

Patrick Jaillet

Dugald C. Jackson Professor in EECS, Co-Director of the Operations Research Center

Research Interests:

Online Optimization and Learning, Machine Learning, Decision Making Under Uncertainty

Thomas Magnanti

Institute Professor & Professor of Operations Research

Research Interests:

Operations Research and Statistics, Management Science

Tobias Salz

Castle Krob Career Development Assistant Professor of Economics

Research Interests:

Industrial Organization, Applied Econometrics, Applied Microeconomics

Chris Zegras

Professor of Transportation and Urban Planning

Research Interests:

Environmental Planning and Management, Healthy Communities and Active Living, Transportation and Mobility, Urban Economics

Dimitris Bertsimas

Professor of Management and Operations Research, Associate Dean of Business Analytics

Research Interests:

Optimization, Stochastic Systems, Machine Learning, Robust Optimization, Transportation and Finance

Fábio Duarte

Principal Research Scientist and Lecturer of Transportation Policy and Planning

Research Interests:

Urban Technologies, Transportation and Planning, Social Construction of Technologies

Chris Knittel

George P. Shultz Professor of Applied Economics

Research Interests:

Economics, Finance and Accounting

Georgia Perakis

William F. Pounds Professor of Management, EMBA Faculty Director, Operations Research Center Co-Director

Research Interests:

Operations Management, Management Science, Pricing, Revenue Management, Supply Chains, Machine Learning, Optimization

Yossi Sheffi

Director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics

Research Interests:

Systems Optimization, Risk Analysis, Supply Chain Management

Siqi Zheng

Samuel Tak Lee Professor, CRE, DUSP and SA+P

Research Interests:

Urban and Environmental Economics and Policy; Environmental Sustainability

Moshe Ben-Akiva

Edmund K. Turner Professor in Civil Engineering

Research Interests:

Transportation Systems Analysis, Intelligent Transportation Systems, Demand Modeling, Econometrics

Charlie Fine

Chrysler Leaders for Global Operations Professor of Management

Research Interests:

Operations Strategy, Supply Chain Management, Value Chain Roadmapping, Outsourcing Dynamics

Valerie Karplus

Assistant Professor of Global Economics and Management

Research Interests:

Biotechnology, Climate Change, Economic Modeling, Economic Development, Energy, Globalization, Sustainability

Sergey Paltsev

Deputy Director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change

Research Interests:

Energy Transition, Policy Scenarios, Climate Policy, Regional Analysis

Chintan Vaishnav

Senior Lecturer, Operations Management

Research Interests:

Information Technology and Systems, Development, and Public Policy

Labs

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Auto-ID Labs

The Auto-ID Labs are the leading global research network of academic laboratories in the field of Internet of Things. The labs comprise seven of the world’s most renowned research universities located on four different continents. The labs believe that the next generation of the Internet of Things can revolutionize global commerce and provide previously unrealizable consumer benefits. The primary research partner is GS1 – a not-for-profit organization that is renowned for establishing standards for global commerce such as introducing barcodes to the retail industry almost 40 years ago.

Director:

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Center for Real Estate, and Sustainable Urbanization Lab

The goal of the Sustainable Urbanization Lab (SUL) is to establish behavioral foundations for urban and environmental planning and policies aimed at sustainable urbanization in the most rapidly urbanizing regions of the world.

The SUL will be defined by three ‘blocks’: two of which are inter-related research themes: Environmental Sustainability and Place-based Policies and Self-Sustaining Urban Growth; the third block, an educational program the China Future City Program, will continue to serve as the teaching and research center of China’s urbanization on MIT campus.

Director:

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Center for Transportation and Logistics

For more than four decades, the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (MIT CTL) has been a world leader in supply chain management education and research. MIT CTL has made significant contributions to supply chain and logistics and has helped numerous companies gain competitive advantage from its cutting-edge research. Launched in 1973, the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL) is a dynamic solutions-oriented environment where students, faculty, and industry leaders pool their knowledge and experience to advance supply chain education and research.

Director:

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Connection Science Living Labs

With its novel "Living Labs" paradigm for research in the field, MIT Connection Science brings together interdisciplinary experts to develop, deploy, and test - in actual living environments - new technologies and strategies for safe, trusted, data sharing. MIT is well positioned to take a leadership role in demonstrating not only how organizations can leverage data in the future, but how we collect, manage, and use personal information, from setting appropriate privacy policies to demonstrating systems that can implement it in practice.

Director:

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Electric Aircraft Initiative

The MIT Electric Aircraft Initiative draws together efforts across MIT aimed at long-term research on electric aircraft. Research spans fundamental propulsion technology development for small drones through to overall aircraft configuration assessment for all-electric commercial aircraft. The focus is on the very long term: technologies that could result in near-silent propulsion and low or no emissions. You can learn more about the overall research areas or read our publications.

Director:

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Energy-at-Scale Center

MIT’s Energy at Scale Center seeks to address the massive scaling requirements necessary for low-carbon technologies to make a substantial contribution to future global energy needs, in collaboration with industry, government, and nonprofit members. We examine economic, technical, environmental, political, and public opinion barriers for deployment. We explore these risks using our Integrated Global System Modeling (IGSM) framework that combines the Economic Projection and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model, MIT Earth System Model (MESM), as well as a portfolio of impact assessment models that focus on life‑sustaining resources (e.g., managed water systems, crop production, ecosystem/forest services, wind/solar/hydropower, and air quality). These linked computer models allow us to analyze a wide range of development pathways in the global energy, agricultural, transportation, and other key sectors.

Director:

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Future Urban Mobility at SMART

The Future Urban Mobility IRG's grand challenge is to develop innovative mobility solutions that simultaneously tackle two opposing objectives: To improve the safety, comfort and time associated with transportation, getting individuals and good where they need to be, and when they need to be there; and to reverse the alarming, unsustainable energy and environmental trends associated with transportation, and devise transportation systems that materially enhance sustainability and societal well-being.

Director:

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JTL Urban Mobility Lab

The JTL Urban Mobility Lab at MIT brings behavioral science and transportation technology together to shape travel behavior, design mobility systems, and improve transportation policies. They apply this framework to managing automobile ownership and usage, optimizing public transit planning and operation, promoting active modes of walking and cycling, governing autonomous vehicles and shared mobility services, and designing multimodal urban transportation systems.

Director:

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Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment

The Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment is a research lab in the MIT Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics. The team is interdisciplinary, covering expertise in Aeronautical, Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, Atmospheric Science and Economics.

Director:

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Megacity Logistics Lab

The Megacity Logistics Lab brings together business, logistics, and urban planning perspectives to develop appropriate technologies, infrastructures, and policies for sustainable urban logistics operations. Their work aims to promote new urban delivery models, from unattended home delivery solutions to smart locker systems, to click & collect services, to drone delivery. They are pushing the limits of existing logistics network designs as future city logistics networks need to support omni-channel retail models, smaller store formats, increased intensity of deliveries, coordinate multiple transshipment points, engage a wider range of vehicle technologies - including electric and autonomous vehicles - and support complex inventory balancing and deployment strategies.

Director:

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Resilient Infrastructure Systems Lab

The Resilient Infrastructure Systems Lab seeks to improve the robustness and security of critical infrastructure systems by developing tools to detect and respond to incidents, both random and adversarial and by designing incentive mechanisms for efficient infrastructure management. They are working on the problems of cyber-physical security, failure diagnostics and incident response, network monitoring and control, and demand management in real-world infrastructures. They mainly focus on cyber-physical infrastructure systems for electric power, transportation, and urban water and natural gas networks.

Director:

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Transit Lab

The MIT Transit Lab leverages the value of large-scale, long-term research collaborations across transit agencies. Starting in 1992 under the leadership of Professor Nigel Wilson, the Lab has collaborated with metropolitan transit agencies and departments of transportation worldwide, developing and implementing technology for transit operations and planning. Past and ongoing research sponsors include the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Transport for London (TfL), and Mass Transit Railway (MTR, Hong Kong). These long-term engagements, in addition to projects with other transit agencies and international research centers, provide graduate students unique opportunities for applied research.

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Courses

Engineering Systems Analysis for Design

1.146

Practical-oriented subject that builds upon theory and methods and culminates in extended application. Covers methods to identify, value, and implement flexibility in design (real options). Topics include definition of uncertainties, simulation of performance for scenarios, screening models to identify desirable flexibility, decision analysis, and multidimensional economic evaluation. Students demonstrate proficiency through an extended application to a system design of their choice. Complements research or thesis projects. Meets with IDS.333 first half of term. Enrollment limited.

Transportation Systems Analysis: Demand and Economics

1.201

Covers the key principles governing transportation systems planning and management. Introduces the microeconomic concepts central to transportation systems. Topics include economic theories of the firm, consumer, and market, demand models, discrete choice analysis, cost models and production functions, and pricing theory. Applications to transportation systems - including congestion pricing, technological change, resource allocation, market structure and regulation, revenue forecasting, public and private transportation finance, and project evaluation - cover urban passenger transportation, freight, maritime, aviation, and intelligent transportation systems.

Demand Modeling

1.202

Theory and application of modeling and statistical methods for analysis and forecasting of demand for facilities, services, and products. Topics include: review of probability and statistics, estimation and testing of linear regression models, theory of individual choice behavior, derivation, estimation, and testing of discrete choice models (including logit, nested logit, GEV, probit, and mixture models), estimation under various sample designs and data collection methods (including revealed and stated preferences), sampling, aggregate forecasting methods, and iterative proportional fitting and related methods. Lectures reinforced with case studies, which require specification, estimation, testing, and analysis of models using data sets from actual applications.

Applied Probability and Stochastic Models

1.203

A vigorous use of probabilistic models to approximate real-life situations in Finance, Operations Management, Economics, and Operations Research. Emphasis on how to develop a suitable probabilistic model in a given setting and, merging probability with statistics, and on how to validate a proposed model against empirical evidence. Extensive treatment of Monte Carlo simulation for modeling random processes when analytic solutions are unattainable.

Planning and Design of Airport Systems

1.231

Focuses on current practice, developing trends, and advanced concepts in airport design and planning. Considers economic, environmental, and other trade-offs related to airport location, as well as the impacts of emphasizing "green" measures. Includes an analysis of the effect of airline operations on airports. Topics include demand prediction, determination of airfield capacity, and estimation of levels of congestion; terminal design; the role of airports in the aviation and transportation system; access problems; optimal configuration of air transport networks and implications for airport development; and economics, financing, and institutional aspects. Special attention to international practice and developments.

Urban Last-Mile Logistics

1.263

Explores specific challenges of urban last-mile B2C and B2B distribution in both industrialized and emerging economies. Develops an in-depth understanding of the perspectives, roles, and decisions of all relevant stakeholder groups, from consumers, to private sector decision makers, to public policy makers. Discussion of the most relevant traditional and the most promising innovating operating models for urban last-mile distribution. Introduces applications of the essential quantitative methods for the strategic design and tactical planning of urban last-mile distribution systems, including optimization and simulation. Covers basic facility location problems, network design problems, single- and multi-echelon vehicle routing problems, as well as associated approximation techniques.

Global Energy: Politics, Markets, and Policy

11.167

Focuses on the ways economics and politics influence the fate of energy technologies, business models, and policies around the world. Extends fundamental concepts in the social sciences to case studies and simulations that illustrate how corporate, government, and individual decisions shape energy and environmental outcomes. In a final project, students apply the concepts in order to assess the prospects for an energy innovation to scale and advance sustainability goals in a particular regional market. Recommended prerequisite: 14.01. Meets with 15.219 when offered concurrently. Expectations and evaluation criteria differ for students taking graduate version; consult syllabus or instructor for specific details. Preference to juniors, seniors, and Energy Minors.

Advanced Seminar in Transportation Finance

11.527

Focuses on the theory and practice of transportation system finance, examining the range of relevant topics including basic public finance, politics, institutional structures, externalities, pricing, and the role of advanced technologies. Primarily oriented around land-based, surface transportation, although in their research students are welcome to examine air and maritime modes according to their interests. Explores issues across a range of contexts, including North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

Econometric Data Science

14.320

Introduces multiple regression methods for causal inference and descriptive analysis in economics and related disciplines. Extensions include instrumental variables methods, analysis of randomized experiments and quasi-experimental research designs, and regression with time series data. Develops the skills needed to conduct - and critique - empirical studies in economics and related fields. Students complete an empirical project with a written description and interpretation of results; this may involve original data collection or use of existing data sets. Applications drawn from real-world examples and frontier research. Familiarity with statistical programming languages is helpful. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

Global Supply Chain Management

15.765

Focuses on the planning, processes, and activities of supply chain management for companies involved in international commerce. Students examine the end-to-end processes and operational challenges in managing global supply chains, such as the basics of global trade, international transportation, duty, taxes, trade finance and hedging, currency issues, outsourcing, cultural differences, risks and security, and green supply chains issues. Highly interactive format features student-led discussions, staged debates, and a mock trial. Includes assignments on case studies and sourcing analysis, as well as projects and a final exam.

The Airline Industry

16.71J/1.232J/15.054J

Overview of the global airline industry, focusing on recent industry performance, current issues and challenges for the future. Fundamentals of airline industry structure, airline economics, operations planning, safety, labor relations, airports and air traffic control, marketing, and competitive strategies, with an emphasis on the interrelationships among major industry stakeholders. Recent research findings of the MIT Global Airline Industry Program are showcased, including the impacts of congestion and delays, evolution of information technologies, changing human resource management practices, and competitive effects of new entrant airlines. Taught by faculty participants of the Global Airline Industry Program.

Airline Management

16.75

Overview of airline management decision processes, with a focus on economic issues and their relationship to operations planning models and decision support tools. Application of economic models of demand, pricing, costs, and supply to airline markets and networks. Examination of industry practice and emerging methods for fleet planning, route network design, scheduling, pricing and revenue management, with emphasis on the interactions between the components of airline management and profit objectives in competitive environments. Students participate in a competitive airline management simulation game as part of the subject requirements.

Air Transportation Systems Architecting

16.886

Addresses the architecting of air transportation systems. Focuses on the conceptual phase of product definition including technical, economic, market, environmental, regulatory, legal, manufacturing, and societal factors. Centers on a realistic system case study and includes a number of lectures from industry and government. Past examples include the Very Large Transport Aircraft, a Supersonic Business Jet and a Next Generation Cargo System. Identifies the critical system level issues and analyzes them in depth via student team projects and individual assignments. Overall goal is to produce a business plan and a system specifications document that can be used to assess candidate systems.

D-Lab: Supply Chains

2.871/15.772/EC.733

Introduces concepts of supply chain design and planning with a focus on supply chains for products destined to improve quality of life in developing countries. Topics include demand estimation, process analysis and improvement, facility location and capacity planning, inventory management, and supply chain coordination. Also covers issues specific to emerging markets, such as sustainable supply chains, choice of distribution channels, and how to account for the value-adding role of a supply chain. Students conduct D-Lab-based projects on supply chain design or improvement. Students taking graduate version will complete additional assignments.

Statistics, Computation and Applications

IDS.131

Hands-on analysis of data demonstrates the interplay between statistics and computation. Includes four modules, each centered on a specific data set, and introduced by a domain expert. Provides instruction in specific, relevant analysis methods and corresponding algorithmic aspects. Potential modules may include medical data, gene regulation, social networks, finance data (time series), traffic, transportation, weather forecasting, policy, or industrial web applications. Projects address a large-scale data analysis question. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments. Limited enrollment; priority to Statistics and Data Science minors and to juniors and seniors.

Data Mining: Finding the Models and Predictions that Create Value

IDS.145/15.062

Introduction to data mining, data science, and machine learning, methods that assist in recognizing patterns, developing models and predictive analytics, and making intelligent use of massive amounts of data collected via the internet, e-commerce, electronic banking, pointof-sale devices, bar-code readers, medical databases, and other sources. Topics include logistic regression, association rules, treestructured classification and regression, cluster analysis, discriminant analysis, and neural network methods. Presents examples of successful applications in credit ratings, fraud detection, marketing, customer relationship management, investments, and synthetic clinical trials. Introduces data-mining software focusing on R. Term project required. Meets with 15.062 when offered concurrently. Expectations and evaluation criteria differ for students taking graduate version; consult syllabus or instructor for specific details.

Development Ventures

MAS.665 / 15.375 / EC.731J

Development Ventures is an exploratory Fall semester elective Action Lab on founding, financing, and building entrepreneurial ventures targeting developing countries, emerging markets, and underserved consumers everywhere.

Particular emphasis is placed on transformative innovations and exponentially scalable business models that can enable or accelerate major positive social change throughout the world.

Logistics Systems

SCM.260

Provides an introduction to supply chain management from both analytical and practical perspectives. Taking a unified approach, students develop a framework for making intelligent decisions within the supply chain. Covers key logistics functions, such as demand planning, procurement, inventory theory and control, transportation planning and execution, reverse logistics, and flexible contracting. Explores concepts such as postponement, portfolio management, and dual sourcing. Emphasizes skills necessary to recognize and manage risk, analyze various tradeoffs, and model logistics systems.

Logistics Systems Topics

SCM.271

Provides an introduction to supply chain management from both analytical and practical perspectives. Taking a unified approach, students develop a framework for making intelligent decisions within the supply chain. Covers key logistics functions, such as demand planning, procurement, inventory theory and control, transportation planning and execution, reverse logistics, and flexible contracting. Explores concepts such as postponement, portfolio management, and dual sourcing. Emphasizes skills necessary to recognize and manage risk, analyze various tradeoffs, and model logistics systems. SCM.271 meets with SCM.260 but requires fewer assignments and lectures.

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