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Self-Organization and Self-Optimization of Traffic Flows on Freeways and in Urban Networks

The lecture introduces microscopic and macroscopic traffic flow models for freeway and urban traffic flow. Moreover, it discusses typical kinds of congestion phenomena and the underlying mechanisms producing them. Based on an understanding of breakdowns of free traffic flow, we propose new ways to support a fluid traffic operation. Through mechanism design, it is possible to specify local interactions between system elements in a way that gives rise to a high performance of traffic systems. In other words, we show how one can create order through self-organization and reach high efficiency on a systemic level without the need for central control.
Type of Seminar:
Optimization and Applications Seminar
Prof. Dirk Helbing
ETH Zurich
Apr 26, 2010   16:30

HG G 19.1, Rämistrasse 101
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Biographical Sketch:
Dirk Helbing was born on January 19, 1965. He studied Physics and Mathematics, but was always interested in other fields of science as well. In the year 2000, he became Professor and Managing Director of the Institute for Transport & Economics at Dresden University of Technology, and in 2007 he was appointed Professor of Sociology, in particular of Modeling and Simulation, at ETH Zürich. Since 2008, he is elected member of the German Academy of Sciences "Leopoldina". More than 200 publications in different scientific fields, 250 talks and more than 300 reports in the public media reflect his wide field of interest, reaching from traffic science over crowds and disaster management to biologically inspired logistics. He also had projects with Xerox PARC, Volkswagen, SCA Packaging, Siemens, further companies, and various foundations. Helbings's team developed a traffic assistance system and patented the principle of a self-organized traffic light control, which implements massively parallel, decentralized control concepts for the optimization of traffic flows. The resulting increase of performance and the higher flexibility are based on latest developments in the understanding of complex systems. Companies and societies are other examples of such complex systems. This is also the reason why Dirk Helbing is interested in sociology. Apart from developing information portals to accelerate scientific innovation, he is particularly interested in techno-social systems, which will determine the future of Web2.0. Furthermore, he is the chairman of the newly established ETH Competence Center "Coping with Crises in Complex Socio-Economic Systems", which will develop computer models of crisis scenarios and finally provide decision support for politics and economy.