Traditionally, cities have been viewed as the sum of their locations – the buildings, monuments, squares and parks that spring to mind when we think of ‘New York’, ‘London’ or ‘Paris’. In The new science of cities (Amazon US| Amazon UK), Michael Batty argues that a more productive approach is to think of cities in terms of …
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Cities and network analysis.
Viewing cities as networks allows us to use the toolbox of network analysis on them, employing concepts such as ‘cores’ and ‘peripheries’, ‘centrality’, and ‘modules’. Batty says that an understanding of how different types of network intersect will be the key that really unlocks our understanding of cities.
Cities, like many other types of network, also seem to be modular, hierarchical, and scale-free – in other words, they show similar patterns at different scales. It’s often said that London is a series of villages, with their own centres and peripheries. but the pattern also repeats when you zoom out and look at the relationships between cities. One can see this in the way that London’s influence really extends across Europe, and in the way that linked series of cities, or ‘megalopolises‘, are growing in places such as the eastern seaboard of the US, Japan’s ‘Taiheiyō Belt‘, or the Pearl River Delta in China.