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|P. Weiss - Science News Online|
|Viewing traffic flow as a complex system, controllers use mathematical and computer models and simulations in an attempt to decrease congestion. Some computer-based traffic models simulate virtual vehicles that motor by the hundreds or thousands through an artificial highway network. The simulations emerge from a more general category of computer models known as agent-based systems, or cellular automata. Others offer a more top-down, conceptual approach to traffic that relies on equation-based models. Spontaneous transformations of traffic, as seen in some of these models, indicate previously unrecognized complexity in highway flow; understanding it requires the concepts and equations of a relatively new branch of mathematics known as nonlinear dynamics. Traffic engineers are disturbed, however, by the physicists' notion that traffic flow can spontaneously break down into a slow-moving or stopped state...|
|Levels:||High School (9-12), College|
|Math Topics:||Cellular Automata, Nonlinear Dynamics, Operations Research|
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