Dynamics of Traffic Flow (1991-1992)

Publication Numbers: 12.

Two dimensional lattice gas models provide an excellent
laboratory for the study of systems driven out of equilibrium
by an external field.
In spite of their simplicity,
these models
can capture the essential features of complex dynamical systems.
They exhibit interesting phenomena
such as dynamical phase transitions and the formation of complex
spatial patterns.

In a pioneering paper we introduced a set of
deterministic cellular automaton models, which describe traffic
flow. We observed a first order dynamical phase transition from
a low density dynamical phase to a high density static phase
This paper has attracted enormous attention
and opened a new field of study in which
cellular automata are employed to simulate automobile traffic
in cities and freeways as well as pedestrian traffic.
This approach now allows the real time simulation of traffic
flow in an entire city and provides an excellent practical tool.

Much of the recent success of the field of traffic flow simulations is
due to physicists who have made it their main field of research.
I decided to maintain my focus on fundamental physics problems
such as self-organization
and dynamics in non-equilibrium systems
(see Sec. I above).