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Traffic Grammar and Algorithmic Complexity in Urban Freeway Flow Patterns


  • Kingsley Haynes


  • Rajendra Kulkarni


  • Roger Stough



This paper uses techniques from formal language theory to describe the linear spatial patterns in urban freeway traffic flows in order to understand and analyze “hidden order” in such high volume systems. A method for measuring randomness based on algorithmic entropy is introduced and developed. These concepts are operationalized using Pincus’ approximate entropy formulation in an appropriate illustration. These measures, which may be viewed as counterintuitive, are believed to offer robust and rigorous guidance to enhance the overall understanding of efficiency in urban freeway traffic systems. Utilization of such measures should be facilitated by information generated by real time intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies and may prove helpful in real time traffic flow management. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Suggested Citation

  • Kingsley Haynes & Rajendra Kulkarni & Roger Stough, 2007. "Traffic Grammar and Algorithmic Complexity in Urban Freeway Flow Patterns," Networks and Spatial Economics, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 333-351, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:netspa:v:7:y:2007:i:4:p:333-351 DOI: 10.1007/s11067-007-9032-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. J F Betak, 1974. "Information Theory as a Basis for Studying Environmental Complexity: Some Limitations," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 6(3), pages 259-272, June.
    2. J F Betak, 1974. "Information theory as a basis for studying environmental complexity: some limitations," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 6(3), pages 259-272, March.
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