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Sufficient Optimality Conditions for Distributed, Non-Predictive Ramp Metering in the Monotonic Cell Transmission Model


M. Schmitt, C. Ramesh, J. Lygeros

Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, vol. 105, pp. 401 - 422, [OC:03751]

We consider the ramp metering problem for a freeway stretch modeled by the Cell Transmission Model. Assuming perfect model knowledge and perfect traffic demand prediction, the ramp metering problem can be cast as a finite horizon optimal control problem with the objective of minimizing the Total Time Spent, i.e., the sum of the travel times of all drivers. For this reason, the application of Model Predictive Control (MPC) to the ramp metering problem has been proposed. However, practical tests on freeways show that MPC may not outperform simple, distributed feedback policies. Until now, a theoretical justification for this empirical observation was lacking. This work compares the performance of distributed, non-predictive policies to the optimal solution in an idealised setting, specifically, for monotonic traffic dynamics and assuming perfect model knowledge. To do so, we suggest a distributed, non-predictive policy and derive sufficient optimality conditions for the minimization of the Total Time Spent via monotonicity arguments. In a case study based on real-world traffic data, we demonstrate that these optimality conditions are only rarely violated. Moreover, we observe that the suboptimality resulting from such infrequent violations appears to be negligible. We complement this analysis with simulations in non-ideal settings, in particular allowing for model mismatch, and argue that Alinea, a successful, distributed ramp metering policy, comes close to the ideal controller both in terms of control behavior and in performance.


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	Author = {Marius Schmitt and Chithrupa Ramesh and John Lygeros},
	Journal = {Transportation Research Part B: Methodological},
	Pages = {401 - 422},
	Title = {Sufficient optimality conditions for distributed, non-predictive ramp metering in the monotonic cell transmission model},
	Volume = {105},
	Year = {2017}}
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