A compartmental model for traffic networks and its dynamical behavior

S. Coogan, M. Arcak
IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, Oct. 2015


We propose a general traffic network flow model suitable for analysis as a dynamical system, and we qualitatively analyze equilibrium flows as well as convergence. Flows at a junction are determined by downstream supply of capacity as well as upstream demand of traffic wishing to flow through the junction. This approach is rooted in the celebrated Cell Transmission Model for freeway traffic flow. Unlike related results which rely on certain system cooperativity properties, our model generally does not possess these properties. We show that the lack of cooperativity is in fact a useful feature that allows traffic control methods, such as ramp metering, to be effective. Finally, we leverage the results of the paper to develop a linear program for optimal ramp metering.