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PATH Brings Academics and Practitioners Together

Drawing over 60 scholars and transportation practitioners from across the country and the world, the Connected Corridors program at PATH (Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology) brought the academic and practical together during an Advancing Traffic Control through Big Data and Connectivity workshop at the Institute for Pure & Applied Mathematics (IPAM), a National Science Foundation Math Institute at UCLA.

“This was a great opportunity for academics and practitioners to interact and discuss the on-the-ground challenges found in one of the most congested areas in the world, the Los Angeles area,” says Joe Butler, PATH Engineering Manager.

The daylong workshop began with four presentations and a five-person panel in the morning. An interactive lunch was followed by a field trip to the Los Angeles Regional Transportation Management Center (LARTMC) where Caltrans and the CHP share responsibility for managing traffic in the LA area. The idea for the workshop was to put the academics in the same room with the practical engineers and technology.

“Class participants were really excited to see the theories in action at the transportation management center,” says Francois Dion, PATH Senior Development Engineer.

The morning session also highlighted the need to bring new players to the table in traffic flow and connectivity: app makers who reroute traffic, like Waze.

“The discussions really recognized the problem in managing traffic is third party players routing traffic in places that most people may not want them, like neighborhood streets,” says Lisa Hammon, PATH Policy, Outreach, and Communications Specialist. “It’s better to invite them than ignore them.”

Several Institute for Transportation Studies Berkeley faculty, staff and alumni are working with IPAM this fall, merging traffic and math in a long program called New Directions in Mathematical Approaches for Traffic Flow Management.

The program consists of tutorials and workshops over four months this fall and looks at how the recent emergence of new technologies, such as sensor networks, smartphones, and new paradigms, such as crowdsourcing social networks, are transforming the way traffic management will be performed in the future.

New advances have created the need for new modeling approaches (in particular to encompass the new data), new estimation, inference and filtering methods and are leading to the development of new paradigms for control. This revival of traffic engineering at the age of web 2.0 and social networks has created a significant amount of excitement in the mathematics, applied mathematics and engineering communities, to support these new approaches, and this program aims to capture these breakthroughs and bring together the world experts of these cross-disciplinary fields.

The program kicked off with Mathematical Approaches for Traffic Flow Management Tutorials from Sept. 9-12, Mathematical Foundations of Traffic from Sept. 28-Oct. 2, and Traffic Estimation from Oct. 12-16. The next workshop is Traffic Control on Oct. 26-30 and continues with Decision Support for Traffic from Nov.16-20 and the program ends with a Culminating Workshop Dec. 6-11, 2015.

Organizers include ITS Berkeley Director Alexandre Bayen and alumni Chris Claudel (University of Texas at Austin) and Dan Work (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). Other ITS Berkeley members involved throughout the series are ITS Berkeley faculty Roberto Horowitz, Alexander Skabardonis, Francesco Borrelli, and Pravin Varaiya; staff Gabriel Gomes and Alex Kurzhanskiy; and alumni Yafeng Ouyang (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Jorge Laval (Georgia Institute of Technology), Nikos Geroliminis (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), Sebastien Blandin (IBM), and Ajith Muralidharan (Sensys Networks).