skip to main content

Title: On Assignment to Classes in Latent Class Logit Models
Random parameter logit models address unobserved preference heterogeneity in discrete choice analysis. The latent class logit model assumes a discrete heterogeneity distribution, by combining a conditional logit model of economic choices with a multinomial logit (MNL) for stochastic assignment to classes. Whereas point estimation of latent class logit models is widely applied in practice, stochastic assignment of individuals to classes needs further analysis. In this paper we analyze the statistical behavior of six competing class assignment strategies, namely: maximum prior MNL probabilities, class drawn from prior MNL probabilities, maximum posterior assignment, drawn posterior assignment, conditional individual-specific estimates, and conditional individual estimates combined with the Krinsky–Robb method to account for uncertainty. Using both a Monte Carlo study and two empirical case studies, we show that assigning individuals to classes based on maximum MNL probabilities behaves better than randomly drawn classes in market share predictions. However, randomly drawn classes have higher accuracy in predicted class shares. Finally, class assignment based on individual-level conditional estimates that account for the sampling distribution of the assignment parameters shows superior behavior for a larger number of choice occasions per individual.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1137 to 1150
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Airline booking data have shown that the fraction of customers who choose the cheapest available fare class often is much greater than that predicted by the multinomial logit choice model calibrated with the data. For example, the fraction of customers who choose the cheapest available fare class is much greater than the fraction of customers who choose the next cheapest available one, even if the price difference is small. To model this spike in demand for the cheapest available fare class, a choice model called the spiked multinomial logit (spiked-MNL) model was proposed. We study a network revenue management problem under the spiked-MNL choice model. We show that efficient sets, that is, assortments that offer a Pareto-optimal tradeoff between revenue and resource use, are nested-by-revenue when the spike effect is nonnegative. We use this result to show how a deterministic approximation of the stochastic dynamic program can be solved efficiently by solving a small linear program. The solution of the small linear program is used to construct a booking limit policy, and we prove that the policy is asymptotically optimal. This is the first such result for a booking limit policy under a choice model, and our proof uses an approach that is different from those used for previous asymptotic optimality results. Finally, we evaluate different revenue management policies in numerical experiments using both synthetic and airline data. 
    more » « less
  2. Energy markets are rapidly changing with smarter, connected, more reliable infrastructure and cleaner generation on the supply side, and more choice, greater control and enhanced flexibility for customers. This paper examines willingness to pay for bundled smart home energy products and information services, using data from a set of two discrete choice experiments that were part of a survey by the regional energy provider of upstate New York. To let the data reveal how preferences are distributed in the population, a logit-mixed logit model in willingness-to-pay space and a combination of observed and unobserved preference heterogeneity was specified and fitted. Results show that residents of Tompkins County are willing to pay more than in other counties for residential storage, and that for home energy management there is an important generational divide with millennials being much more likely to perceive the economic value in the smart energy technologies. The flexible logit-mixed logit estimates provide evidence of important heterogeneity in preferences: whereas most of the population has a positive –albeit rather low– valuation of smart energy products and services, there is a considerable percentage of customers with negative perceptions. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract Customer preference modelling has been widely used to aid engineering design decisions on the selection and configuration of design attributes. Recently, network analysis approaches, such as the exponential random graph model (ERGM), have been increasingly used in this field. While the ERGM-based approach has the new capability of modelling the effects of interactions and interdependencies (e.g., social relationships among customers) on customers’ decisions via network structures (e.g., using triangles to model peer influence), existing research can only model customers’ consideration decisions, and it cannot predict individual customer’s choices, as what the traditional utility-based discrete choice models (DCMs) do. However, the ability to make choice predictions is essential to predicting market demand, which forms the basis of decision-based design (DBD). This paper fills this gap by developing a novel ERGM-based approach for choice prediction. This is the first time that a network-based model can explicitly compute the probability of an alternative being chosen from a choice set. Using a large-scale customer-revealed choice database, this research studies the customer preferences estimated from the ERGM-based choice models with and without network structures and evaluates their predictive performance of market demand, benchmarking the multinomial logit (MNL) model, a traditional DCM. The results show that the proposed ERGM-based choice modelling achieves higher accuracy in predicting both individual choice behaviours and market share ranking than the MNL model, which is mathematically equivalent to ERGM when no network structures are included. The insights obtained from this study further extend the DBD framework by allowing explicit modelling of interactions among entities (i.e., customers and products) using network representations. 
    more » « less
  4. This article surveys the development of nonparametric models and methods for estimation of choice models with nonlinear budget sets. The discussion focuses on the budget set regression, that is, the conditional expectation of a choice variable given the budget set. Utility maximization in a nonparametric model with general heterogeneity reduces the curse of dimensionality in this regression. Empirical results using this regression are different from maximum likelihood and give informative inference. The article also considers the information provided by kink probabilities for nonparametric utility with general heterogeneity. Instrumental variable estimation and the evidence it provides of heterogeneity in preferences are also discussed. 
    more » « less
  5. The problem of rank aggregation from pairwise and multiway comparisons has a wide range of implications, ranging from recommendation systems to sports rankings to social choice. Some of the most popular algorithms for this problem come from the class of spectral ranking algorithms; these include the rank centrality (RC) algorithm for pairwise comparisons, which returns consistent estimates under the Bradley-Terry-Luce (BTL) model for pairwise comparisons (Negahban et al., 2017), and its generalization, the Luce spectral ranking (LSR) algorithm, which returns consistent estimates under the more general multinomial logit (MNL) model for multiway comparisons (Maystre & Grossglauser, 2015). In this paper, we design a provably faster spectral ranking algorithm, which we call accelerated spectral ranking (ASR), that is also consistent under the MNL/BTL models. Our accelerated algorithm is achieved by designing a random walk that has a faster mixing time than the random walks associated with previous algorithms. In addition to a faster algorithm, our results yield improved sample complexity bounds for recovery of the MNL/BTL parameters: to the best of our knowledge, we give the first general sample complexity bounds for recovering the parameters of the MNL model from multiway comparisons under any (connected) comparison graph (and improve significantly over previous bounds for the BTL model for pairwise comparisons). We also give a message-passing interpretation of our algorithm, which suggests a decentralized distributed implementation. Our experiments on several real-world and synthetic datasets confirm that our new ASR algorithm is indeed orders of magnitude faster than existing algorithms. 
    more » « less