Operation Regimes and Slower-is-Faster-Effect in the Control of Traffic Intersections

  • Dirk Helbing
  • Amin Mazloumian
Part of the Lecture Notes in Mathematics book series (LNM, volume 2062)


The efficiency of traffic flows in urban areas is known to crucially depend on signal operation. Here, elements of signal control are discussed, based on the minimization of overall travel times or vehicle queues. Interestingly, we find different operation regimes, some of which involve a “slower-is-faster effect”, where a delayed switching reduces the average travel times. These operation regimes characterize different ways of organizing traffic flows in urban road networks. Besides the optimize-one-phase approach, we discuss the procedure and advantages of optimizing multiple phases as well. To improve the service of vehicle platoons and support the self-organization of “green waves”, it is proposed to consider the price of stopping newly arriving vehicles.


Traffic Flow Queue Length Traffic Light Green Time Road Section 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Author contributions: DH set up the model, performed the analytical calculations, and wrote the manuscript. AM produced the numerical results and figures, and derived the separating lines given by (94) and (95).

Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank for partial support by the ETH Competence Center “Coping with Crises in Complex Socio-Economic Systems” (CCSS) through ETH Research Grant CH1-01 08-2, the VW Foundation Project I/82 697 on “Complex Self-Organizing Networks of Interacting Machines: Principles of Design, Control, and Functional Optimization”, the Daimler-Benz Foundation Project 25-01.1/07 on “BioLogistics”, and the “Cooperative Center for Communication Networks Data Analysis”, a NAP project sponsored by the Hungarian National Office of Research and Technology under Grant No. KCKHA005.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ETH Zurich, UNO D11ZurichSwitzerland

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