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Blame Braess for Bumper to Bumper

First off, I would like to say how interesting it is that Forbes wrote an article on an answer to a Quora question and referenced Wikipedia multiple times. The article discussed how the production of more roads actually makes traffic worse. It is an interesting topic that we covered in class because it shows how the obvious solution to a problem is actually counter intuitive.

The bottom line is that everyone acts in their own self interest. Therefore, adding a new and quicker road will cause old roads to not be used and the new road will be used more often, causing congestion. It also references multiple cases in which closing off roads at large metropolitan cities actually reduced congestion in the area which would seem counter intuitive to the problem.

This is due in part to a less efficient Nash Equilibrium brought about by the new road. Drivers acting in their own self interest actually causes Braess’ paradox. The article even references the Tragedy of Commons in which individual people acting in their own self interest causes a collective detriment to their whole community. In other words, the efficiency of the traffic system pays a Price of Anarchy when everyone acts in their own self interest.

This resource directly addresses topics covered in class such as Brauss’ Paradox and Game Theory. For example, we talked about the Nash Equilibrium and how adding new “edges” would actually make the efficiency of the system worse. What we did not discuss as much in class is the concepts that go into why exactly this paradox exists such as the Tragedy of Commons and the Price of Anarchy.


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September 2018