Multi-objective Optimization in Traffic Signal Control




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


Traffic Signal Control systems are one of the most popular Intelligent Transport Systems and they are widely used around the world to regulate traffic flow. Recently, complex optimization techniques have been applied to traffic signal control systems to improve their performance. Traffic simulators are one of the most popular tools to evaluate the performance of a potential solution in traffic signal optimization. For that reason, researchers commonly optimize traffic signal timing by using simulation-based approaches. Although evaluating solutions using microscopic traffic simulators has several advantages, the simulation is very time-consuming.

Multi-objective Evolutionary Algorithms (MOEAs) are in many ways superior to traditional search methods. They have been widely utilized in traffic signal optimization problems. However, running MOEAs on traffic optimization problems using microscopic traffic simulators to estimate the effectiveness of solutions is time-consuming. Thus, MOEAs which can produce good solutions at a reasonable processing time, especially at an early stage, is required. Anytime behaviour of an algorithm indicates its ability to provide as good a solution as possible at any time during its execution. Therefore, optimization approaches which have good anytime behaviour are desirable in evaluation traffic signal optimization. Moreover, small population sizes are inevitable for scenarios where processing capabilities are limited but require quick response times. In this work, two novel optimization algorithms are introduced that improve anytime behaviour and can work effectively with various population sizes.

NS-LS is a hybrid of Non-dominated Sorting Genetic Algorithm II (NSGA-II) and a local search which has the ability to predict a potential search direction. NS-LS is able to produce good solutions at any running time, therefore having good anytime behaviour. Utilizing a local search can help to accelerate the convergence rate, however, computational cost is not considered in NS-LS. A surrogate-assisted approach based on local search (SA-LS) which is an enhancement of NS-LS is also introduced. SA-LS uses a surrogate model constructed using solutions which already have been evaluated by a traffic simulator in previous generations.

NS-LS and SA-LS are evaluated on the well-known Benchmark test functions: ZDT1 and ZDT2, and two real-world traffic scenarios: Andrea Costa and Pasubio. The proposed algorithms are also compared to NSGA-II and Multiobjective Evolutionary Algorithm based on Decomposition (MOEA/D). The results show that NS-LS and SA-LS can effectively optimize traffic signal timings of the studied scenarios. The results also confirm that NS-LS and SA-LS have good anytime behaviour and can work well with different population sizes. Furthermore, SA-LS also showed to produce mostly superior results as compared to NS-LS, NSGA-II, and MOEA/D.





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