Traffic Flow
July 31, 2009

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For the last month or so I’ve been wondering about traffic flow, or specifically, the question of how to maximize its efficiency.  I’ve been trying to decide between two models, which I will dub the American model and the Chinese model. In the American model there are a bunch of rules that are broadly obeyed, such as staying within one’s lane, leaving one car length of space between you and the nearest car, and obeying traffic lights. In the Chinese model, these rules are more like guidelines, so traffic flow is much messier. You might have your own opinion (if so, I’d be happy to hear it!), but I thought about this for a while and it’s not intuitively obvious to me which model leads to more efficient traffic flow.

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