The science behind it

Living in a big city can mean many good things like access to more services, cultural events of all kinds, and museums; But it is also synonymous with traffic.

Vehicle traffic is a constant in big cities: but not because it is common for those of us who live in it, it ceases to be a nuisance.

All in all, for those of us who live in densely populated cities with many vehicles, we know that walking the streets is no easy task, even though we are generally submissive.

But it turns out that we may not have to accept traffic as part of our city’s destiny, and science can help us solve this complex problem.

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts

The complexity of traffic is not only a personal or social estimate: this phenomenon that occurs in cities can be studied and explained, if we treat it as Complex system.

The complex system is that which is in it The set of parts that compose it, when combined, gives a different result than if we only added each component.

This is because each part of the system not only contributes specific information or value to the whole, but also to the interrelationships that exist between each component.

Other examples of complex systems include cells, Earth’s climate, the human brain, ecosystems, and even the universe. In all of these cases, the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.

For example, brain processes relate to chemical reactions and electrical impulses, but knowing them in isolation does not explain all of the complexity of the thoughts and emotions that emanate from them.

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Mathematics to understand traffic

In vehicle traffic, the components of the system are the cars that rotate in a specific space, whether it is an entire city or a specific street.

And this is how every car is related to the others around it: the movement of each car affects the others.

To study these complex systems, such as traffic, there are different models: in one of them, The components, in this case cars, are considered to be molecules.

Then the path of each subject particle is observed and thus the interrelationships between them all can be analyzed.

Another model for describing traffic in a city takes into account the traffic flow as a whole.: A rough estimate is made that considers it exactly as such, as if it were the water flowing in the river, without looking at each molecule separately.

There is also an intermediary approach: it takes into account the flow of vehicles, but also analyzes the movement possibilities of each vehicle. Then using the equations of statistical mechanics.

Solve the equation

The data obtained by any of the models is used to obtain it Computer simulation, in which relationships between cars can be studied.

With this, it is possible to give answers as to why the system behaving a certain way, but also to suggest possible solutions.

Applying this type of mathematical and physical model can help to understand a complex system such as city traffic.

But it can also contribute to solving the problem it represents, and to suggest solutions such as synchronizing traffic lights at certain specific points in the system.

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However, the models and their results do not solve everything: in a broader perspective, the system includes little more than cars and street design.

People are part of a complex system and it is often difficult to adapt our actions to forms: A person is walking a red traffic light, a pedestrian does not cross the street where he or she should.

So perhaps to solve this very complex problem, city dwellers must also be aware of and take responsibility for our actions: knowing that no matter how small they are, they affect everyone.

Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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