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The secret is to follow your nose: route path selection and angularity

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Abstract

This paper presents the results of an experiment in which route-choice decisions made bysubjects at road-junctions are recorded. It will then demonstrate that a route can be expressedas the sum of the individual decisions made or as the sum of all possible decisions available(i.e. potential choices) during a journey. The relationship between these two values will becompared statistically indicating that the decisions made at road-junctions correlate morestrongly with maximum angles of incidence of road-center-lines leading from a junctionthan to mean or minimum angles. One interpretation of this phenomenon is that subjectsappear to be attempting to conserve linearity throughout their journey. Since any theorybased upon the conservation of angular linearity appears to be refuted by certain, informalobservations of subjects traversing urban grids, the first theory put forward in this paper isthen modified to account for this particular case. The final hypothesis presented in this paperis based upon acts of rule-based decision-making combining principles of the conservationof linearity whilst minimising the angular difference between bearings. The two key bearingsare those of the direction of potential route choices compared to the perceived bearings ofthe wayfinding goal as judged from sequential instances of the observer's location. Thistheory of modified angular conservation is called 'The British Library Theory'.In (Conroy, 2001) it was demonstrated that the most popular routes from a sample(as calculated using string-matching techniques) also appeared to be more 'linear'. This observationreproduces similar findings made in (Golledge, 1995). The question that these observationsprompt is what route choices are individuals making at road junctions such that theiractions result in this apparent conservation of route linearity? Therefore, in this paper amethod is proposed for the determination of route choice decisions made at consecutiveroad junctions over the duration of a single journey. This method employs a measure ofangular deviation (from a straight line or direction) and uses this to develop a cumulativemeasure for an individual's entire journey, based upon the summation of all choices made atevery junction encountered along the route.The hypothesis that this method was developed to test is that an individual subjectwill follow as straight a route as possible with minimal angular deviation (from a straightline) on condition that this choice always approximates the direction of their final destination.Another way of stating this hypothesis is that essentially people 'follow their noses'whilst navigating through an environment.