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Land use planning has the potential of playing an important part in man's relation to his physical and cultural environment. However, planners and policy makers are hampered in implementing large-scale planning decisions by their inability to anticipate or visualize the many relations that must be considered in developing rational, comprehensive planning alternatives. To meaningfully control our dynamic environmental system, of which land use can be considered a subsystem, we must have the ability to predict land usage and associated environmental impacts both in an assumed steady state and in the presence of real or imagined perturbation.

In response to the availability of appropriate research tools and the clear need for land use simulation and prediction, the 1960s spawned a proliferation of computer-based simulation models for use in transportation studies. Yet, with some notable exceptions, these sophisticated modeling efforts have not made a significant impact on planning and decision-making—primarily because of their narrow focus and inflexibility.

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