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Microsoft Uses Cabbies and Fancy Math to Provide Better Driving Directions Microsoft, Cabbies Team Up to Improve GPS Directions

How good is your GPS in city traffic? Certainly not better than a cabbie 20 years on the job. That's the premise of ingenious project called T-Drive.


Does your GPS know how to navigate city traffic? Hardly. And certainly not better than a cabbie 20 years on the job. That's the premise of an ingenious project at Microsoft Research called T-Drive.

Anyone who has ever driven in a city knows there's often a faster route—down a side street, or a bit longer on the odometer but far speedier, maybe the lights are longer. Anyway, GPS isn't so good at making the call to get off the highway and hit the back streets. So, researchers Xing Xie and Yu Zheng turned to the experts: over 33,000 cabbies in China. They monitored the GPS locations and times of taxis over three months to determine which routes were the fastest, essentially mining their collective intelligence and human knowledge to defeat the machine algorithm using something called Variance-Entropy-Based Clustering. The data revealed which stretches of which roads were consistently chosen, and which were avoided and when.

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