Modeling an urban highway: A statistical physics point of view for a nonphysical system

L. Castro Gonzáles, M.E. Lárraga, and J. Antonio del Rio


Nowadays, methodologies coming from studying physical systems are being applied to the description of a wide variety of complex systems. In particular, one can study thermodynamical methods to describe the overall behavior of many systems, independent of the precise microscopic construction. In this paper, a real Mexican highway is studied as a cellular automata system using available official data released by the Mexican Government. The system studied is the Cuernavaca bypass which was modified in 2016. Official data allows to compare the highway before and after the modifications. As more complex thermodynamic variables such as entropy is difficult to define and measure in discrete traffic models, it is shown how other more simple variables such as the standard deviation can be enough to have a complete analysis of the system. More specifically, it is shown how standard deviation can be seen as a measure of order. Results from the study of the highway show how, taking a minimal measure such as ordering the transit of heavy trucks can reduce up to 30\% the travel time from one end to another. Otherwise, travel times stays practically constant with respect to the original system.


Traffic flow; Cellular Automata; Applied Statistical Physics; Complex Systems; Computational techniques

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Revista Mexicana de Física E

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