traffic is the most interesting multivariable/differential equation problem ever. everyday i drive to rotations and am stuck in traffic. i try different levels of aggressiveness in driving and see how the results change. of course, i don’t leave at exactly the same time everyday, and people’s schedules are different monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday, so it is really hard to judge if my one change in variable has an effect. i find that being in the right lane, which is usually the slow lane, during traffic hours usually ends up being faster. seems like everyone tries to rush onto the left lane and that ends up more congested. on the highway, this is really obvious at places where lanes merge or when people enter the highway. they all shift to the left lane and the right land becomes much faster right immediately after the lane finishes merging or right after where the cars enter. then the people realize they are driving slowly on the left lane and shift over to the right. like all motion, it seems to overshoot and then the left becomes the fastest. and it shifts back again. it’s like damped harmonic motion, except there is another entrance or lane merge soon and this motion can never reach equilibrium. if i had all the time in the world and had the resources to, i would set up video cameras all over the highway and watch driving patterns to find the ideal. of course, this ideal driving pattern may depend on people’s knowledge of the ideal driving pattern. if this information is published and people read about it, then they may adjust and the ideal driving pattern may change again. fascinating.