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The physics of traffic and regional development

Helbing, Dirk; Nagel, Kai

This contribution summarizes and explains various principles from physics which are used for the simulation of traffic flows in large street networks, the modelling of destination, transport mode, and route choice, or the simulation of urban growth and regional development. The methods stem from many-particle physics, from kinetic gas theory, or fluid dynamics. They involve energy and entropy considerations, transfer the law of gravity, apply cellular automata and require methods from evolutionary game theory. In this way, one can determine interaction forces among driver-vehicle units, reproduce breakdowns of traffic including features of synchronized congested flow, or understand changing usage patterns of alternative roads. One can also describe daily activity patterns based on decision models, simulate migration streams and model urban growth as a particular kind of aggregation process.
Published in: Contemporary physics, 10.1080/00107510410001715944, Taylor & Francis