Entropy and a sub-group of geometric measures of paths predict the navigability of an environment

Demet Yesiltepe*, Pablo Fernández Velasco, A. Coutrot, Ayse Ozbil Torun, Jan Wiener, Christoph Holscher, Michael Hornberger, Ruth Conroy Dalton, Hugo Spiers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Despite extensive research on navigation, it remains unclear which features of an environment predict how difficult it will be to navigate. We analysed 478,170 trajectories from 10,626 participants who navigated 45 virtual environments in the research app-based game Sea Hero Quest. Virtual environments were designed to vary in a range of properties such as their layout, number of goals, visibility (varying fog) and map condition. We calculated 58 spatial measures grouped into four families: task-specific metrics, space syntax configurational metrics, space syntax geometric metrics, and general geometric metrics. We used Lasso, a variable selection method, to select the most predictive measures of navigation difficulty. Geometric features such as entropy, area of navigable space, number of rings and closeness centrality of path networks were among the most significant factors determining the navigational difficulty. By contrast a range of other measures did not predict difficulty, including measures of intelligibility. Unsurprisingly, other task-specific features (e.g. number of destinations) and fog also predicted navigation difficulty. These findings have implications for the study of spatial behaviour in ecological settings, as well as predicting human movements in different settings, such as complex buildings and transport networks and may aid the design of more navigable environments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105443
Number of pages12
Early online date30 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023

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