Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science

pp 1041-1071

Cities as Complex Systems: Scaling, Interaction, Networks, Dynamics and Urban Morphologies

  • Michael BattyAffiliated withCenter for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London

Definition of the Subject

Cities have been treated as systems for fifty years but only in the last two decades has the focus changed from aggregateequilibrium systems to more evolving systems whose structure emerges from the bottom up. We firstoutline the rudiments of the traditional approach focusing on equilibrium and then discuss how the paradigm has changed to one which treats cities asemergent phenomena generated through a combination of hierarchical levels of decision, driven in decentralized fashion. This is consistent with thecomplexity sciences which dominate the simulation of urban form and function. We begin however with a review of equilibrium models, particularlythose based on spatial interaction, and we then explore how simple dynamic frameworks can be fashioned to generate more realistic models. In exploringdynamics, nonlinear systems which admit chaos and bifurcation have relevance but recently more pragmaticschemes of structuring urban models based on ...

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