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A Computer Science Approach to Traffic Congestion

Like most days in Atlanta, my drive home consists of a lot of time just sitting in traffic. Coming from a Computer Science background, some of that time has been spent thinking of how a computer engineer might approach solving the traffic congestion problems of the Greater Atlanta area. These are the solutions that I’ve come up with:

  1. Increase the Bus Speed == Increase/Remove Speed Limits – Our traffic system is only going to be as fast as the slowest components. So, If we want to move more vehicles through these roads, we need to increase or remove speed limits.
  2. Make the system Massively Parallel – When it comes to our computers, the data doesn’t have to flow directly to the CPU to be processed. For example, many graphics cards today can reduce the load on the primary CPU with it’s own CPU. Additionally, we’ve also got multiple processors and completely separate ALUs. The real life equivalent to this would be to implement: additional lanes, alternate high-speed roadways, increased bus transportation, and/or implementation of a rail system. Currently, we’re only really taking advantage of the first option….more lanes.
  3. Better Thread Management – In the early days of computing, if something in your application was taking a long time to process, it would freeze your entire application. However, now we’re able to take advantage of multiple processing threads so that processes that are going to take a while don’t suspend all other activity. On the highway, this is comparable to traffic on one side of the interstate slowing down because of an accident on the other side. To tackle this, investments should be made in preventing either side of the highway from seeing each other. This could be done with a fixed item(such as a concrete wall) or as a remotely controlled shield that the DOT can raise or lower as needed.
  4. Schedule Tasks during Low Loads – Your computer is capable of scheduling work to be done at night, that would normally slow your performance down if done during the day. So, why can’t the DOT? More often, you’ll see construction crews out during the middle of the day, causing severe traffic delays.
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  • cassie


    Author Reply

    Zach … you spend too much time in traffic. BUT good points.

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