Constructing cities, deconstructing scaling laws

Elsa Arcaute, Erez Hatna, Peter Ferguson, Hyejin Youn, Anders Johansson, Michael Batty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Cities can be characterized and modelled through different urban measures. Consistency within these observables is crucial in order to advance towards a science of cities. Bettencourt et al. have proposed that many of these urban measures can be predicted through universal scaling laws. We develop a framework to consistently define cities, using commuting to work and population density thresholds, and construct thousands of realizations of systems of cities with different boundaries for England and Wales. These serve as a laboratory for the scaling analysis of a large set of urban indicators. The analysis shows that population size alone does not provide us enough information to describe or predict the state of a city as previously proposed, indicating that the expected scaling laws are not corroborated. We found that most urban indicators scale linearly with city size, regardless of the definition of the urban boundaries. However, when nonlinear correlations are present, the exponent fluctuates considerably.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Volume12
Issue number102
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Fingerprint

Scaling laws
Population Density
Wales
England

Keywords

  • City boundaries
  • Power-laws
  • Scaling laws
  • Urban indicators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering

Cite this

Constructing cities, deconstructing scaling laws. / Arcaute, Elsa; Hatna, Erez; Ferguson, Peter; Youn, Hyejin; Johansson, Anders; Batty, Michael.

In: Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Vol. 12, No. 102, 2015.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Arcaute, Elsa ; Hatna, Erez ; Ferguson, Peter ; Youn, Hyejin ; Johansson, Anders ; Batty, Michael. / Constructing cities, deconstructing scaling laws. In: Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 2015 ; Vol. 12, No. 102.
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