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MAPH 4161

sam.dolan@ucd.ie

C OURSE S TRUCTURE

S PRING 2007 S EMESTER

Each week:

Assessment:

O NLINE R ESOURCES

MATLAB: We will use Matlab in tutorials to test numerical

methods, and to visualise our results.

and example Matlab programs will be posted on Black-

board: http://elearning.ucd.ie/.

backup: http://mathsci.ucd.ie/sdolan/

Or visit office 6, Science Hub (2nd floor).

I NTRODUCTION

Computational Physics can be taught with the main em-

phasis coming from three different areas; the numerical

analysis, programming and the physics, although ultimately

it is a mix of all three.

which allow us to find approximate solutions to mathe-

matical problems; e.g. Runge-Kutta methods for solving

ordinary differential equations as we saw in second year.

The analysis of these techniques involves tools such as

the Taylor series which tell us how accurate and stable

our numerical methods are.

puter is essential and in this course we will use the Mat-

lab language as we did in second year. New features of

Matlab will be picked up as we go along.

largely determine our choice of numerical method and the

course layout.

Course Outline

conservation in gas dynamics. Linear advection equa-

tion. Characteristics. Basic numerical methods. Conser-

vation laws. Lax Wendroff scheme and Burgers equation.

Shock formation. Traffic flow. Gas dynamics.

tion of heat flow. Series approximation. Explicit and im-

plicit methods. Crank-Nicholson scheme. Thomas algo-

rithm. 2D and 3D problems. ADI methods.

ary and eigenvalue problems in a one-dimensional, steady

potential. Numerical techniques for solving Schrodingers

equation. Scattering and tunnelling problems.

Relaxation methods. Iterative solution of linear algebraic

equations.

Monte Carlo methods and simulation: Random walks. Self-

avoiding random walks and polymer chains. Direct simu-

lation Monte Carlo methods in statistical mechanics. The

ideal gas model. The Ising model of ferromagnetism. The

variational technique in quantum mechanics.

Textbooks

Good mix of numerical methods, physics applications and

Matlab programmes.

Morton and D.F. Mayers (Cambridge University Press).

Very good on the numerical analysis of pdes.

book - not good for the analysis part of the course.

Equations by A. Iserles (Cambridge University Press). Good

on the numerical analysis of odes and pdes

eque (Birkhauser). Not for the faint-hearted ! But acces-

sible introductory chapters.

1. Conservation Laws in Physics

or a conservation law well have a brief reminder of the

basic principles, and some applications, taken from gas

dynamics.

axis, and let (x, t) be the mass density at point x and

time t. If v(x, t) is the bulk gas flow velocity then v is the

mass flux at x and t. If matter is neither created nor de-

stroyed then the mass density at a point can only change

of there is a gradient in the mass flux,

+ (v) = 0

t x

t + (v)x = 0 (1)

and the type of equation we are interested in solving.

1 can, in principle, be solved. Otherwise we need the

momentum conservation equation which in the absence

of viscosity is,

(v)t + (v 2 + P )x = 0

tion,

Et + (v(E + P ))x = 0

also needed to relate E, P and .

All of these pdes have the same conservative form,

(Density) + (F lux) = 0

t x

plasma physics, general relativity etc. We want to study

methods of solving such equations when exact or analytic

methods are not available.

But first lets look at the kind of advanced results that can

be obtained in this area.

Examples

standing of the aerodynamics of aircraft. This is a compu-

tational problem and a sample result is shown below for

the cross sectional flow past a wing and flap profile. Red

denotes fast flow velocity while below denotes slow.

2. Astrophysical fluid flow is an extremely important appli-

cation of computational methods for conservation laws.

As an example (www.ukaff.ac.uk/starcluster) consider an

enormous cloud of gas which is 50 times as massive as

the sun, 9.5 million kilometres across and only 10 degrees

kelvin above absolute zero.

The cloud begins to collapse under its own weight, heats

up and shock fronts propagate throughout.

Stars start to form in the hot dense core (note this is a

simulation of gas dynamics and nuclear physics !)

1.2 Linear Advection Equation

consider the linear advection equation for the quantity u(x, t)

u u

+ v(x, t) =0 (2)

t x

as defined in equation 1 but is a simpler case to consider

first.

t 0, < x < subject to the initial condition

u(x, 0) = u0(x)

istics of equation 2. The total time derivative of u along

any curve x(t) is given by

du u dx u

= +

dt t dt x

satisfies

dx

= v(x, t)

dt

constant. Therefore, the solution is given in terms of the

initial condition. This is the simplest way to solve such

equations analytically and will be our guide in constructing

numerical techniques.

t Characteristic Curves

u=constant

Analytic Examples

1. v(x, t) = v = constant

Characteristic curve, along which u(x, t) is constant,

is the solution to

dx

=v x = x + vt

dt

acteristics are straight lines. Therefore the solution to

equation 2 is

u(x, t) = u(x, 0) = u0(x vt)

locity v. For example if the initial shape were the Gaus-

sian profile u(x, 0) = exp(x2/L2) then at later

times we have

(x vt)2

!

u(x, t) = exp

L2

Characteristic curve is solution to

dx 1 + x2

= t = (x x)(1 + x2)

dt 1 + 2xt + 2x2 + x4

condition

t

u(x, t) = u(x, 0) = u0 x

1 + x2

then

" 2 #

1 t

u(x, t) = exp 2 x

L 1 + x2

from the linear advection equation 2),

ut + (v(x)u)x = 0

ut + v(x)ux = v (x)u

v the evolution of u follows a simple ordinary differential

equation

du

= v u

dt

1.3 Finite difference methods for linear advection

were too complicated to use the analytic method of char-

acteristics ?

h in the x direction and along the t axis.

(x j,t )

n

h

We denote by un j the numerical approximation to u(x, t)

at the jth spatial point and nth timestep; i.e. un

j u(xj , tn ).

u(xj , tn ) as h 0 and 0; i.e. if we make the grid

progressively more refined we want the numerical solution

to tend to the analytical one. Otherwise the numerical

scheme is useless !!.

tion 2 and we discuss these below. Although this equation

has a simple analytic solution the numerical solution is not

trivial. First we define some new notation for finite differ-

ences.

we will briefly outline a notation which will be used in parts

of the course.

Consider a function of two variables, u(x, t), where we

have a spacing h along the x-axis and along the t-axis.

There are three kinds of finite differences which we can

define. We define the operators for the analytic function

u(x, t) but they also apply to un

j.

Forward differences :

+xu(x, t) u(x + h, t) u(x, t)

Backward differences :

xu(x, t) u(x, t) u(x h, t)

Central differences :

tu(x, t) u(x, t + /2) u(x, t /2)

xu(x, t) u(x + h/2, t) u(x h/2, t)

second order central difference

= u(x + h, t) 2u(x, t) + u(x h, t)

1

0xu(x, t) +x + x u(x, t)

2

1

= [u(x + h, t) u(x h, t)]

2

Forward Time Centered Space (FTCS) method

equation 2 gives,

+tun

j n

x u n

j

= vj

2h

un+1

j un

j u n

j+1 u n

j1

= vjn

2h

n+1 n n n

uj = uj uj+1 uj1

2

(ftcs.m) is simple to programme and is completely use-

less !!!.

writing a programme !) by the following method.

Consider how the trial solution eikx evolves from one timestep

to the next. This is one Fourier mode of the full solution

for any given problem.

from one timestep to the next. At the nth timestep we

therefore have the trial solution

un n ikxj

j = e

therefore unstable. If || < 1 the solution is damped. The

wave shape is preserved only if || = 1.

e = e e e

2

= neikjh 1 eikh eikh

2

Dividing by neikjh gives

ikh ikh

= 1 e e = 1 i sin(kh)

q 2

|| = 1 + 2 sin2(kh)

unstable.

further states that the stability of a scheme is necessary

and sufficient for convergence once the differencing scheme

is consistent.

Upwind scheme

acteristics. Consider the simplest case where v(x, t) =

v = constant (assume v > 0) and draw a characteristic

through the point (xj , tn+1).

1

0

0

1

t n+1

1

0

0

1 1

0

0

1

tn

xj

Characteristic

= v /h)

+tun

j = x u n

j

un+1

j = u n un

j x j

= (1 )un

j + u n

j1

Note that = 1 v = h/ , a characteristic goes

through (xj1, tn) and (xj , tn+1) so that the upwind scheme

gives the correct answer un+1

j = u n . Similarly when

j1

= 0 we get un+1 j = u n . For all cases where 0 <

j

< 1, the upwind scheme gives a linear interpolation

(see below) approximation to un+1

j .

the upwind scheme for the linear advection equation

j j

un+1

j =

un x un if vjn > 0

j j

0,

= 1 (1 eikh)

2 = [(1 ) + cos(kh)]2 + [ sin(kh)]2

= (1 )2 + 2 + 2(1 ) cos(kh)

= 1 2(1 )(1 cos(kh))

2 = 1 4(1 ) sin2(kh/2)

Lewy (CFL) condition, < 1, is satisfied.

schemes error depends on h and . The actual differ-

ential equation we are trying to solve is

u u

+ v(x, t) =0

t x

ten as

+tun

j n

x u n

j

+ vj =0

h

The truncation error, Tjn , is obtained by inserting the ana-

lytic solution, u(x, t), into the numerical scheme and Tay-

lor expanding in the following manner

Tjn + vjn

n h

1

1 n

= ut + utt + ... + v ux huxx + ...

2 j 2 j

1

= ( utt vhuxx)n

j + ...

2

been omitted, so that the method is first order accurate.

1

Tjn = (1 )vhuxx + ...

2

There are numerous other schemes to solve the linear

advection scheme such as the Lax method

1 n n

un+1

j = (uj+1 + un

j1 ) (uj+1 un

j1)

2 2

un+1

j = un1

j (un n

j+1 uj1)

we will look at one more very important technique.

which is denoted by point P on the diagram below. The

characteristic intersects the grid at tn at point Q. Points

A, B and C are shown.

P t n+1

1

0

0

1

1

0

0

1 1

0

0

1 1

0

0

1 1

0

0

1

tn

B Q A C

xj

Characteristic

uP = uQ

scheme used linear interpolation to approximate uQ

uP = uQ uB + (1 )uA

The Lax Wendroff scheme uses quadratic interpolation

between uB , uA and uC at time tn as shown in the di-

agram.

U(x)

u

11

00

B uC

11

00

u

1

0

A

x x x x x

B Q A C

the points (xB , uB ), (xA, uA) and (xC , uC ) can be writ-

ten in Lagrange form

(x xA)(x xC )

U (x) = uB

(xB xA)(xB xC )

(x xB )(x xC )

+ uA

(xA xB )(xA xC )

(x xB )(x xA)

+ uC

(xC xB )(xC xA)

first that

xB + (1 )h

xQ = xA h

xC (1 + )h

to give

1 1

uQ = (1 + )uB + (1 2)uA (1 )uC

2 2

1 1

un+1

j = (1 + )un

j1 + (1 2 n

)u j (1 )u n

j+1

2 2

which is equivalent to

j j 0x j x j

2

forward time, centered differencing to the partial differen-

tial equation

u u v 2 2 u

= v +

t x 2 x2

an extra term that plays the role of viscosity. Indeed this

technique is known as artificial viscosity and essentially

acts to dampen out the instabilities.

The above derivation is only valid for constant v. For a

general v(x, t) we can go about the derivation first by Tay-

lor expanding,

1

u(x, t + ) = u(x, t) + ut(x, t) + 2utt(x, t) + O( 3)

2

tives by spatial derivatives which can then be central dif-

ferenced.

The Taylor expansion can then be written as

2

+ [vtux(x, t) + v (vux)x]

2

the Lax Wendroff scheme for the linear advection equa-

tion

u n

0x j

un+1

j = u n

j vj

n

h

n n n

2 n

0x u j v u

n x j x j

+ (vt)j + vj (4)

2 h h2

der accurate.

stant can be studied by the usual Fourier analysis which

gives

= 1 i sin(kh) 2 2 sin2(kh/2)

2 = 1 4 2(1 2) sin4(kh/2)

MATLAB Programme linadvect.m

with different initial conditions and advection speeds. The

choices allowed are summarised in the following table.

Note that the choice of v determines vt and the exact so-

lution.

u(x, 0) H(x0.1)H(0.3x) exp(10(4x 1)2))

shape1.m shape2.m

2x2 + x4)

adspeed1.m adspeed2.m

vt(x, t) 0 2x(1 + x2)/(1 +

2xt + 2x2 + x4)2

speed1 dot.m speed2 dot.m

Exact exact1.m exact2.m

We are also free to choose any one of the methods up-

wind (upwind.m), Lax (adlax.m) and Lax Wendroff (laxwend.m),

can be used.

speed, with either initial condition and the upwind or Lax

Wendroff schemes; i.e. four different sets of results, and

the analytic solution using characteristics is also plotted.

In each case h = 0.1 and the Courant number

vmax/h = 1. A full set of results should be generated by

the student. The programme terminates before the wave

profile runs off the grid.

The results for the upwind method with an initial gaussian

profile are shown below for t = 0, t = 1/3, t = 2/3 and

t = 1 and compared against the analytic solution (solid

line); the same times apply to the subsequent three exam-

ples. It is clear that, although the peak of the numerical

results moves with the correct speed, the upwind method

reduces the height of the initial shape, i.e. an amplitude

error which is quite large.

1 1

0.8 0.8

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0

0 0.5 1 1.5 0 0.5 1 1.5

1 1

0.8 0.8

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0

0 0.5 1 1.5 0 0.5 1 1.5

The same qualitative features can be seen with the up-

wind method for the top-hat initial condition. Again the

pulse moves at the correct speed but the amplitude is re-

duced and the edges of the pulse are smoothed out.

1 1

0.8 0.8

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0

0 0.5 1 1.5 0 0.5 1 1.5

1 1

0.8 0.8

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0

0 0.5 1 1.5 0 0.5 1 1.5

The Lax Wendroff scheme for the gaussian profile shows

very good agreement between the numerical results and

the analytic solution and represents a considerable im-

provement on the upwind method.

1 1

0.8 0.8

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0

0 0.5 1 1.5 0 0.5 1 1.5

1 1

0.8 0.8

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0

0 0.5 1 1.5 0 0.5 1 1.5

However, Lax Wendroff method for the top-hat condition

shows how difficult it is to reproduce non-smooth solu-

tions; quite advanced schemes are needed ! In the case

of the Lax-Wendroff scheme the coefficient of un j+1 is

(1 )/2 which negative because of the stability re-

quirement. Therefore, un+1

j is a weighted mean of three

values with two positive and one negative weight. The

solution can, and does in the case of non-smooth data,

generate internal local maxima and minima.

1 1

0.8 0.8

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0

0 0.5 1 1.5 0 0.5 1 1.5

1 1

0.8 0.8

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0

0 0.5 1 1.5 0 0.5 1 1.5

1.3 Lax Wendroff Method for Conservation Laws

are of the form

u f (u)

+ =0 (5)

t x

i.e. the flux is a function of u(x, t). This can also be re-

written as

f

ut + v(u)ux = 0 where v(u)

u

manner as for the linear advection equation. As before,

the Taylor expansion gives,

1

u(x, t + ) = u(x, t) + ut(x, t) + 2utt(x, t) + O( 3)

2

Again we need to replace the t-derivatives with x-derivatives

by using the pde and then apply central differencing. Be-

gin by noting that

1 2

u(x, t + ) = u(x, t) fx + (vfx)x

2

2

n+1 n n 1 h

n n

i

uj = uj 0xf (uj ) + x v(uj )xf (uj )

h 2 h

ing to

n n n n n

h i h i

x v(uj )xf (uj ) = x v(uj ) f (uj+1/2) f (uj1/2)

n n n

h i

= v(uj+1/2) f (uj+1) f (uj )

n n n

h i

v(uj1/2) f (uj ) f (uj1)

where un

j1/2 (u n + un )/2.

j j1

n

Adopting the notation that vj1/2 v(un ) and f n

j1/2 j

n

f (uj ), the Lax Wendroff method for conservation laws

can be written as,

n+1 n n

uj = uj 1 vj+1/2 +xfjn

2h h

n

1 + vj1/2 xfjn (6)

2h h

fluid flow

1 2

ut + uux = 0 ut + u =0 (7)

2 x

flows is

1

ut + uux = px + uxx

equation describes the flow of a pressureless, inviscid

fluid. Its solution is, nevertheless, non-trivial.

dx

= u (x(t), t)

dt

acteristics are straight lines with their slopes determined

by the initial data, i.e. given the initial condition u(x, 0) =

u0(x) the characteristic passing through the point (x, 0)

has the slope

dt 1

=

dx u0(x)

draw the straight characterstic through that point back to

t = 0 so that the solution can be written in implicit form,

u(x,t)

u(x,0)

the wave the faster it moves. Therefore, parts of the wave

which have an initial negative gradient will steepen until...

larity appears in the solution where it becomes multiple

valued.

u(x,t)

u(x,o)

The problem is that the mathematical model for gas flow

breaks down at this point since viscosity becomes impor-

tant as steep gradients develop and we should be solving

the equation

ut + uux = uxx

the flow beyond which the flow cant steepen further. This

is shown schematically in the following plot.

computational gas dynamics and we will not study it in

detail. Physically of course a shock is not a mathemat-

ical discontinuity but has a width determined by viscous

dissipation.

propagation by discussing the Riemann problem. Con-

sider a conserved quantity u(x, t) that obeys ut+f (u)x =

0 where f is convex, i.e. f (u) > 0. Consider the initial

condition

ur x<0

u(x, 0) =

ul x0

propagate at speed vs as shown in the diagram.

u

l

v

s

u

r

conservation equation from L to +L which gives

d L

Z

u(x, t) dx = f (ul ) f (ur )

dt L

Z L

u(x, t) dx = (L + vst)ul + (L vst)ur

L

Z L

d

u(x, t) dx = vs(ul ur )

dt L

f (ul ) f (ur )

Vs =

ul ur

ur )/2. The characteristics from each region go into the

shock (x = vst) as shown below.

t Shock

u < ur . In this case there is also a shock solution shown

here.

ur

u

l

cosity, this solution becomes unstable. It is known as an

entropy-violating shock and does not occur in gas dynam-

ics.

wave is produced and there is a linear increase from ul to

ur .

ur

u

l

t Rarefaction wave

ul x < ul t

u(x, t) = x/t ul t x ur t

ur x > ur t

variant of the Lax Wendroff method called the two-step

method. Here provisional values of u are calculated at

half step values (xj+1/2, tn+1/2),

n+1/2 1 n n

n n

uj+1/2 = uj + uj+1 f (uj+1) f (uj )

2 2h

n f (un+1/2 ) f (un+1/2 )

un+1

j = u j j+1/2 j1/2

h

f

There is no need to calculate u which is an advantage

when dealing with systems of equations.

servation law to give

uj h +xfjn

n n

if vj+1/2 <0

un+1

j = (8)

un x f n n

if vj1/2 >0

j h j

MATLAB Programme burgers.m

sian profile. The process of shock formation can be seen

qualitatively from the plots. Note that the Lax Wendroff

term contains essentially a second derivative term which

is called artificial viscosity which numerically plays the

same role as viscosity in the Navier Stokes equations.

The upwind scheme, which is not shown here, actually

resolves the shock better than Lax Wendroff.

1 1

0.8 0.8

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0

0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0 0.2 0.4 0.6

1 1

0.8 0.8

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0

0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0 0.2 0.4 0.6

The two-step method, for comparison, with Lax Wendroff.

1 1

0.8 0.8

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0

0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0 0.2 0.4 0.6

1 1

0.8 0.8

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0

0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0 0.2 0.4 0.6

All of the above methods can easily be generalised to sys-

tems of equations. For example the wave equation de-

scribing the propagation of waves on a string is

2A 2 2A

2

=v

t x2

Using the definitions

A A

u1 and u2 v

t x

vection equations,

u1 u2 u2 u1

=v and =v

t x t x

methods above.

Another example is the Euler equations of gas dynamics,

which were mentioned earlier, and can be written in the

form

ut + (f (u))x = 0

u1

u=

v u2

E u3

and

v u2

f = v 2 + p = u2 /u + p(u)

2 1

v(E + p) u2(u3 + p(u))/u1

linear system of equations.

The numerical difference equations for u1, u2 and u3 are

then solved simultaneously. For the Lax-Wendroff method

we would need to calculate the Jacobian matrix f (u). For

the two-step method this is not necessary which is one of

its biggest advantages.

1.4 Traffic Flow

laws is to the problem of traffic flow. While this may seem

an odd example to take in computational physics, it pro-

vides important insight into the behaviour of fluid and gas

dynamics.

(x, t) to denote the density of cars at a point x on the

road and time t; i.e. were modelling the traffic flow as a

continuum. If v(x, t) is the traffic speed at that point then

the conservation law for the traffic flow is

(v)

+ =0

t x

sity so that we should write v as an explicit function of ;

i.e. v(x, t) = v().

When = 0 we have a free road and the traffic speed will

tend to the speed limit vm. Likewise in bumper to bumper

traffic at density m the traffic speed ought to be zero.

Using a linear model between these two limiting cases we

have,

!

v() = vm 1

m

first approximation. Note that we strictly have v vm and

m. Also, in this model a car does not respond to

the global traffic conditions; i.e. what lies some distance

ahead.

the form

b

+ a+ =0

t x 2

where a = vm and b = 2vm/m. This equation is

called the generalised inviscid Burgers equation. The

standard Burgers equation we obtained beforehand cor-

responds to a = 0 and b = 1.

which gives us information on the characteristics,

+ (v()) = 0 + c() =0

t x t x

where

!

d 2

c() (v) = vm 1

d m

lines defined by

dx

= c()

dt

Note the limiting cases for c(),

vm for = 0

c() = 0 for = m/2

vm for = m

Note that v() is the speed of the traffic while c() is the

speed of disturbances or waves in the traffic which can be

seen from the following example.

Traffic at a Stoplight

m x

m

(x, 0) = x

1 x

2

0

x

green at t = 0.

the diagram below that

m x vmt

(x, t) =

0 x vm t

i.e. the next car to move is at x = vmt and behind this

car it is still bumper-to-bumper while in front of the lead

car at x = vmt we still have a free road.

= =0

m

+ x

pansion fan. The characteristics vary in slope from 1/vm

to 1/vm across the expansion fan in the tx plane as shown

in the diagram.

so too will the solution between vmt and + vmt

since the density is constant along each characteristic.

In the limit of 0 the density therefore drops linearly

from m to 0 as x varies from vmt to vmt. Therefore the

full solution is

m x vmt

m

(x, t) = x

1 vmt vmt x vmt

2

0 x vm t

happens at a stoplight.

and not the vehicle trajectories which are shown in the

plot below.

t

Vehicle

trajectories

There are other models for the car flux, f = v, for ex-

ample data for the Lincoln tunnel in New York City was

used by Greenberg (1959) to suggest the model f =

a log(m/).

the Lax-Wendroff method which in this case can be writ-

ten out to give,

n+1 n n n

j = j F Fj1

2h j+1

2 h

n n

n n

i

+ c F Fj cj1/2 Fj Fj1

2h2 j+1/2 j+1

where

1 n

cj1/2 c(n n n

j1/2) and j1/2 =

2

j + j1

and

!

F () = vm 1

m

the road into a racetrack. The density is plotted out at var-

ious times below up to the point where the last car moves.

Density versus x and t

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

0

0.5 5

0.4 10

Time

0.3 15

0.2 20

0.1 25

0 30

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

Position

this point which is an important test of a numerical method

for this problem. This rear point is a shock front. What

should ultimately happen to the distribution and what does

the programme produce ?

Traffic Jams and Shock Fronts

condition

m /2 for x < 0

(x, 0) =

m for x 0

have bumper-to-bumper trafic there. The cars with x < 0

can move forward, at least initially, until the local density

increases to m and they stop; a traffic jam/shock front

moves backwards through the traffic.

a velocity of 0 for traffic at density m/2 and a velocity of

vm for the bumper-to-bumper part. Therefore, the char-

acteristics intersect and the line connecting these inter-

section points is the shock front which moves at velocity

f (l ) f (r )

vs =

l r

case, vs = vm/2 as shown in the figure below which

plots the characteristics for this problem.

t

Shock Front

t

Traffic jam

Moving traffic

!) show that in the rest frame of the shock, the flux of

cars into the shock front is equal to flux of cars out of

the shock front. This is just a consistency check - but is

another useful way of determing the shock speed !

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