"Phantom" Traffic Jams

Keep our streets traffic free

Description

In! this! task,!students! will! explore! how! leading!researchers are!using! mathematics! to! understand! the!

roots!of complex!problems!such!as!“phantom!traffic!jams”—traffic!congestion!that!suddenly!appears!on!

a! roadway!with!no!apparent!cause! (i.e.,!no!observable!accident,!stalled!vehicle,!or!other!obstacle!in!a!

lane! such! as! construction). Students! investigate! the! connections! between! mathematics,! science,! and!

real world!problems!in!engineering!and!urban!planning. At!the!conclusion!of!the!task,!students!research!

a!location!in!the!community!known for!traffic!congestion.!Students!identify!the!possible!variables!in!the!

system!such!as!the!number!of!vehicles!using!the!road!during!both!highV!and!low usage!times,!the!types!

of!vehicles,! number! of! traffic! signals!and!intersections,!the! timings and! coordination of traffic! signals,!

and! the! roadway’s! carrying! capacity.! Students! present! their! research! findings! using! accurate!

mathematical! vocabulary! and! suggest! possible! solutions! for! alleviating! the! traffic! issues! in! the! area!

studied.


Goals

Students!will!meet!these!goals!in!their!explorations:


  • Become!familiar!with!how!mathematics!can!be!used!as!a!tool!to!better!understand!the!world
  • Gain!awareness!of!applications!of!mathematics!in!solving!complex!global!problems!such!as! “phantom!traffic!jams”
  • Identify!the!intersections!between!mathematics,!science,!engineering,!and!transportation!planning!and!how!decisions!made!by!individuals!in!these!disciplines!can!impact!people!in!a!community


  • Ask!questions!and!explore!theories
  • Have!opportunities!to!generate!new!ideas
  • Develop!the!essential!skills!of!communicating,!creative!problem!solving,!and!logical!thinking