MIT Special Seminar
Date: September 8th, 2023 Venue: Online

As part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Industrial Liaison Programme, FORUM8 has hosted the MIT Special Seminar in March and September each year from 2021. This was the 6th seminar, and we invited Professor Jinhua Zhao of Cities and Transportation. Prof. Zhao works on decarbonizing the world's mobility system by combining behavioral psychology and computational decision making. In the seminar titled "Behavior and Computation: Future of Urban Mobility", he explained the relationship between "Behavior" and "Computation", which are the basis of his research.

Prof. Zhao began with an overview of technological advances in transportation, pointing out that along with technological innovation, data and values are changing, which is changing the purpose of transportation. When thinking about the future of mobility, he says, we should focus not only on technology, but also on data and values. The two ideas that are important here are "Behavioral Thinking" and "Computational Thinking".

Behavioral thinking is a way of thinking from the perspective of how people feel, perceive, and act. As an example, he cited an experiment in Singapore that combined autonomous driving cars with biometric devices.

On the other hand, computational thinking uses data and algorithms to make predictions and controls. He explained that the accuracy of this type of thinking is increasing through the use of AI reinforcement learning, and showed examples such as an experiment to predict people's movements in London and a demonstration of autonomous driving buses in Chicago.

Finally, Prof. Zhao explained the integration of behavioral thinking and computational thinking. When thinking, first identify the problem through behavioral thinking and set appropriate tasks. Then, propose solutions using computational thinking. Prof. Zhao emphasizes that this way of thinking, which combines both ways of thinking, is useful for both research and business.


(Up&Coming '23 Fall issue)
Seminar Report