Construction, infrastructure, decision support, data driven, simulation, knowledge extraction, activity recognition, machine learning, smartphone sensors, process mining, big data analytics


Within the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) domain, simulation modeling is mainly used to facilitate decision-making by enabling the assessment of different operational plans and resource arrangements, that are otherwise difficult (if not impossible), expensive, or time consuming to be evaluated in real world settings. The accuracy of such models directly affects their reliability to serve as a basis for important decisions such as project completion time estimation and resource allocation. Compared to other industries, this is particularly important in construction and infrastructure projects due to the high resource costs and the societal impacts of these projects. Discrete event simulation (DES) is a decision making tool that can benefit the process of design, control, and management of construction operations. Despite recent advancements, most DES models used in construction are created during the early planning and design stage when the lack of factual information from the project prohibits the use of realistic data in simulation modeling. The resulting models, therefore, are often built using rigid (subjective) assumptions and design parameters (e.g. precedence logic, activity durations). In all such cases and in the absence of an inclusive methodology to incorporate real field data as the project evolves, modelers rely on information from previous projects (a.k.a. secondary data), expert judgments, and subjective assumptions to generate simulations to predict future performance. These and similar shortcomings have to a large extent limited the use of traditional DES tools to preliminary studies and long-term planning of construction projects. In the realm of the business process management, process mining as a relatively new research domain seeks to automatically discover a process model by observing activity records and extracting information about processes. The research presented in this Ph.D. Dissertation was in part inspired by the prospect of construction process mining using sensory data collected from field agents. This enabled the extraction of operational knowledge necessary to generate and maintain the fidelity of simulation models. A preliminary study was conducted to demonstrate the feasibility and applicability of data-driven knowledge-based simulation modeling with focus on data collection using wireless sensor network (WSN) and rule-based taxonomy of activities. The resulting knowledge-based simulation models performed very well in properly predicting key performance measures of real construction systems. Next, a pervasive mobile data collection and mining technique was adopted and an activity recognition framework for construction equipment and worker tasks was developed. Data was collected using smartphone accelerometers and gyroscopes from construction entities to generate significant statistical time- and frequency-domain features. The extracted features served as the input of different types of machine learning algorithms that were applied to various construction activities. The trained predictive algorithms were then used to extract activity durations and calculate probability distributions to be fused into corresponding DES models. Results indicated that the generated data-driven knowledge-based simulation models outperform static models created based upon engineering assumptions and estimations with regard to compatibility of performance measure outputs to reality.


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Graduation Date





Behzadan, Amir


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering

Degree Program

Civil Engineering








Release Date


Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science; Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic