Dr. Billy Williams

Dr. Billy M. Williams

Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Phone: 919-515-7813
Fax: 919-515-7908
Instructor Website
Research Website

CE 702 Traffic Flow Theory

3 Credit Hours

Traffic stream characteristics, shock wave, queuing, and other macroscopic flow theories; car following, gap acceptance, and other microscopic theories; distributions of traffic stream parameters; building traffic simulation models.


The expectation is that graduate students enrolling in Traffic Flow Theory have knowledge of basic traffic engineering principles (CE 305 – Traffic Engineering or equivalent) and have taken an introductory course in statistics. It is also desirable for students to have had a senior/graduate student course on traffic operations (CE 502 – Traffic Operations or equivalent).

Course Objectives

The course will provide students with the theoretical underpinnings upon which most traffic operations and analysis methods are based. By the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Understand the difference between macroscopic and microscopic models.
  • Characterize the statistical distributions of principal traffic flow parameters.
  • Model and characterize congestion using shock wave and queuing theories.
  • Acquire the foundation for many traffic operational models found in the Highway Capacity Manual (HCM) and other national guides.
  • Conduct small scale simulation experiments using general and specific purpose software.

Course Topics

  • Macroscopic traffic flow theory
  • Microscopic traffic flow theory
  • Traffic impact models

Course Requirements

GENERAL: Course requirements will include readings from the textbooks and other selections, the writing of a term research paper, and participation in class forum discussions.

HOMEWORK: Three to four individual assignments over the course of the semester

EXAMINATIONS: One Midterm exam and Final exam.

PROJECTS: Each student will conduct a project that applies one or more of the methodologies or models covered in the course to real world or simulated data. The projects will be tailored for the individual students’ interests and access to resources. Some minimal project data collection may be necessary.

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: No special computer software requirements. However, knowledge of EXCEL’s statistical formulas and advanced math routines or familiarity with another statistics program is necessary.


A.D. May, Traffic Flow Fundamentals, Prentice Hall, NJ, 1990. (Provided electronically – there are online sources if you desire a hard copy)

Revised Monograph on Traffic Flow Theory available online at –

Computer and Software Requirements

Please review minimum computer specifications recommended by NC State University and Engineering Online.


Updated 2/18/2020