This work was supported by the National Science Foundation
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Traffic flow is a phenomenon familiar to us all. We have developed a traffic flow simulator, implemented as a Java® application. This example serves the purpose of introducing an interesting and active current area of research that draws upon fundamentals of granular materials flow, kinetic theory of gases, and illustrates how macroscopic behavior can emerge from specification of local interactions, an enduring theme in structure-property relationships for materials.
Several approaches to traffic flow simulation are
in use. We have adopted a microscopic approach, consistent with the theme of the work.
In it, traffic flow is described in terms of interactions between
individual cars on the road. Our
simulator is based on uni-directional flow on a multi-lane highway.
The figure below shows a few features of this applet. Play the applet
to see the model in action!