Finite-State Mean-Field Games, Crowd Motion Problems, and its Numerical Methods

  • Roberto Machado Velho

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In this dissertation, we present two research projects, namely finite-state mean-field games and the Hughes model for the motion of crowds. In the first part, we describe finite-state mean-field games and some applications to socio-economic sciences. Examples include paradigm shifts in the scientific community and the consumer choice behavior in a free market. The corresponding finite-state mean-field game models are hyperbolic systems of partial differential equations, for which we propose and validate a new numerical method. Next, we consider the dual formulation to two-state mean-field games, and we discuss numerical methods for these problems. We then depict different computational experiments, exhibiting a variety of behaviors, including shock formation, lack of invertibility, and monotonicity loss. We conclude the first part of this dissertation with an investigation of the shock structure for two-state problems. In the second part, we consider a model for the movement of crowds proposed by R. Hughes in [56] and describe a numerical approach to solve it. This model comprises a Fokker-Planck equation coupled with an Eikonal equation with Dirichlet or Neumann data. We first establish a priori estimates for the solutions. Next, we consider radial solutions, and we identify a shock formation mechanism. Subsequently, we illustrate the existence of congestion, the breakdown of the model, and the trend to the equilibrium. We also propose a new numerical method for the solution of Fokker-Planck equations and then to systems of PDEs composed by a Fokker-Planck equation and a potential type equation. Finally, we illustrate the use of the numerical method both to the Hughes model and mean-field games. We also depict cases such as the evacuation of a room and the movement of persons around Kaaba (Saudi Arabia).
Date of AwardSep 10 2017
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorDiogo Gomes (Supervisor)


  • Mean-field games
  • Crowd motion
  • Fokker-Planck Equation
  • Numerical Methods
  • Hamilton-Jacobi equations

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