Traffic Patterns Unit

Why do traffic jams form? Each year the number of paved miles grows by roughly 20,000 miles. In most urban areas there is little space left for new roads. When traffic gets too congested traffic engineers often consider changes to existing roads and intersections that can reduce bottlenecks. These changes might include adjusting the timing of signals, new signals or stop signs, longer turning lanes, traffic calming measures, or even slowing traffic on certain roads to encourage drivers to take other routes. Computer-based simulation helps ensure that proposed road changes have the desired effect.

The primary goal of this unit is to engage students in simple interactive activities to explore simple pattern formation in complex systems, and in the use, modification, and creation of agent-based models to conduct experiments on simple virtual traffic systems.

Partners and Sponsors: National Science Foundation.



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