Analysis of the Information Entropy on Traffic Flows

Zhiyuan Liu*, Yunshan Wang, Qixiu Cheng, Hai Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This paper aims to reveal the uncertainty of traffic flow by introducing a new quantity based on the concept of information entropy (IE). We discover the existence and analyze the properties of IE of traffic flows. It is revealed by both real-world trajectory data and simulation data that the IE of traffic flows can be clearly measured and observed. More importantly, the relationships between IE and other key quantities, those are space mean speed and density, in traffic flow analysis can be described by linear and parabolic functions. We also discover that these relationships are not sensitive to traffic volume. With the inspiration from IE, another new quantity termed speed entropy (SE) is then proposed. Tests with aggregated traffic data from Performance Measurement System (PeMS) show that the pattern of the relationship between SE and flow-weighted average speed illustrates different traffic conditions. In general, a key achievement of the IE analysis is that it gives us a new pathway to better capture the intricate traffic flows from the dimension of uncertainty, thus it has the potential to enhance existing models for traffic data analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18012-18023
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China through the Distinguished Young Scholar Project under Grant 71922007 and Key Project under Grant 52131203 and in part by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in China Project of Humanities and Social Sciences under Grant 20YJAZH083.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2000-2011 IEEE.


  • Information entropy
  • quantitative analysis
  • speed entropy
  • traffic flow data
  • uncertainty


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