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Natural ComplexityA Modeling Handbook$
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Paul Charbonneau

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691176840

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691176840.001.0001

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Traffic Jams

Traffic Jams

(p.154) 7 Traffic Jams
Natural Complexity

Paul Charbonneau

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the occurrence of traffic jams in the flow of moving automobiles as an example of complex collective behavior emerging from the interactions of system elements. It begins with a discussion of the basic design principle of an automobile traffic model and the numerical implementation of the model using the Python code. It then describes a representative simulation involving an ensemble of 300 cars initially at rest and distributed randomly, with a mean spacing of 10 units. It also examines how the traffic jam model behaves, traffic jams as avalanches, and the self-organized criticality of car traffic. The chapter includes exercises and further computational explorations, along with a suggested list of materials for further reading.

Keywords:   traffic jams, automobile traffic, Python code, avalanches, self-organized criticality

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