ITS Alum Dan Work Wins Prestigious Best Dissertation Award

January 17, 2012

Daniel Work, who received his Ph.D. in 2010 and is now an Assistant Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, won the Best Dissertation award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Intelligent Transportation Systems Society.

The IEEE award is given annually for the "best dissertation in any ITS area that is innovative and relevant to practice."

Work's dissertation was titled, "Real-time estimation of distributed parameters systems: Application to traffic monitoring." 

As part of his thesis, Work recast an historic model used by transportation engineers for half a century and adapted it to make use of data becoming available from smart phones.  A critical issue was transforming those models which were based on density to a velocity evolution equation. 

His work was pivotal to the success of Mobile Millennium, a traffic monitoring system utilizing streaming data from mobile and static sensors in real time to produce traffic estimates faster than the physics of traffic.

"Dan pioneered the field of algorithms capable of integrating mobile probe data in traffic flow models and demonstrated the power of his methods by spectacular implementations which today have found their way to several companies which are routinely using them for their daily operations," said his thesis advisor, Prof. Alexandre Bayen. 

In a video lecture, Work explains his research and its implications for other applications such as environmental engineering