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Constructing cities, deconstructing scaling laws

Arcaute, E; Hatna, E; Ferguson, P; Youn, H; Johansson, A; Batty, M; (2015) Constructing cities, deconstructing scaling laws. Journal of the Royal Society Interface , 12 (102) , Article 20140745. 10.1098/rsif.2014.0745. Green open access

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Cities can be characterised 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 realisations 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 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 non-linear correlations are present, the exponent fluctuates considerably.

Type: Article
Title: Constructing cities, deconstructing scaling laws
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2014.0745
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2014.0745
Language: English
Additional information: © 2014 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: power-laws, scaling laws, urban indicators, city boundaries
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1455713
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