Monday, May 11, 2009

STOP! The traffic light is turning red!

There are so many people driving vehicles on the streets but you rarely see chaotic events due to traffic. Why? Mathematics play an important role controlling traffic lights by helping traffic controllers optimizing the signal changes of traffic lights. Click the link below to learn more about this interesting application of mathematics and traffic lights.
clipped from news.bbc.co.uk

Welcome to the red light district
Traffic light
There's nothing more frustrating than sitting at a red light, watching
smiling drivers on the other side of the road speed past.
HOW ARE TRAFFIC LIGHTS CONTROLLED?
The first uses data collected on traffic flow in a certain area to calculate
timings for the lights, running the red lights to a strict timetable.

The other method is a little more hi-tech.

Coiled under the tarmac at junctions and crossroads across the UK, are loops
of cable which act as metal detectors as cars pass over them.

This information is passed to a central computer, which uses complex
algorithms to calculate the optimal time each light should spend on each colour,
ideally creating a smooth flow of traffic throughout the network.

Mathematical algorithms, and futuristic operations centres can only get you so
far.
"There is no way of getting down to a neat mathematical formula.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It’s pretty amazing to know how math can be involved with the biggest things. Especially, how it’s involved with traffic lights. What I found very interesting is that, as simple as the traffic network might seem, the technology is still old fashioned. It’s interesting how they collect data on traffic flow and calculate timing for lights. math really is everywhere. marialidia