+1 Recommend
0 collections
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      Is this scaling nonlinear?

      Read this article at

          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.


          One of the most celebrated findings in complex systems in the last decade is that different indexes y (e.g. patents) scale nonlinearly with the population x of the cities in which they appear, i.e. yx β , β≠1. More recently, the generality of this finding has been questioned in studies that used new databases and different definitions of city boundaries. In this paper, we investigate the existence of nonlinear scaling, using a probabilistic framework in which fluctuations are accounted for explicitly. In particular, we show that this allows not only to (i) estimate β and confidence intervals, but also to (ii) quantify the evidence in favour of β≠1 and (iii) test the hypothesis that the observations are compatible with the nonlinear scaling. We employ this framework to compare five different models to 15 different datasets and we find that the answers to points (i)–(iii) crucially depend on the fluctuations contained in the data, on how they are modelled, and on the fact that the city sizes are heavy-tailed distributed.

          Related collections

          Most cited references 14

          • Record: found
          • Abstract: found
          • Article: not found

          Bivariate line-fitting methods for allometry.

          Fitting a line to a bivariate dataset can be a deceptively complex problem, and there has been much debate on this issue in the literature. In this review, we describe for the practitioner the essential features of line-fitting methods for estimating the relationship between two variables: what methods are commonly used, which method should be used when, and how to make inferences from these lines to answer common research questions. A particularly important point for line-fitting in allometry is that usually, two sources of error are present (which we call measurement and equation error), and these have quite different implications for choice of line-fitting method. As a consequence, the approach in this review and the methods presented have subtle but important differences from previous reviews in the biology literature. Linear regression, major axis and standardised major axis are alternative methods that can be appropriate when there is no measurement error. When there is measurement error, this often needs to be estimated and used to adjust the variance terms in formulae for line-fitting. We also review line-fitting methods for phylogenetic analyses. Methods of inference are described for the line-fitting techniques discussed in this paper. The types of inference considered here are testing if the slope or elevation equals a given value, constructing confidence intervals for the slope or elevation, comparing several slopes or elevations, and testing for shift along the axis amongst several groups. In some cases several methods have been proposed in the literature. These are discussed and compared. In other cases there is little or no previous guidance available in the literature. Simulations were conducted to check whether the methods of inference proposed have the intended coverage probability or Type I error. We identified the methods of inference that perform well and recommend the techniques that should be adopted in future work.
            • Record: found
            • Abstract: found
            • Article: not found

            Growth, innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities.

            Humanity has just crossed a major landmark in its history with the majority of people now living in cities. Cities have long been known to be society's predominant engine of innovation and wealth creation, yet they are also its main source of crime, pollution, and disease. The inexorable trend toward urbanization worldwide presents an urgent challenge for developing a predictive, quantitative theory of urban organization and sustainable development. Here we present empirical evidence indicating that the processes relating urbanization to economic development and knowledge creation are very general, being shared by all cities belonging to the same urban system and sustained across different nations and times. Many diverse properties of cities from patent production and personal income to electrical cable length are shown to be power law functions of population size with scaling exponents, beta, that fall into distinct universality classes. Quantities reflecting wealth creation and innovation have beta approximately 1.2 >1 (increasing returns), whereas those accounting for infrastructure display beta approximately 0.8 <1 (economies of scale). We predict that the pace of social life in the city increases with population size, in quantitative agreement with data, and we discuss how cities are similar to, and differ from, biological organisms, for which beta<1. Finally, we explore possible consequences of these scaling relations by deriving growth equations, which quantify the dramatic difference between growth fueled by innovation versus that driven by economies of scale. This difference suggests that, as population grows, major innovation cycles must be generated at a continually accelerating rate to sustain growth and avoid stagnation or collapse.
              • Record: found
              • Abstract: found
              • Article: not found

              The origins of scaling in cities.

              Despite the increasing importance of cities in human societies, our ability to understand them scientifically and manage them in practice has remained limited. The greatest difficulties to any scientific approach to cities have resulted from their many interdependent facets, as social, economic, infrastructural, and spatial complex systems that exist in similar but changing forms over a huge range of scales. Here, I show how all cities may evolve according to a small set of basic principles that operate locally. A theoretical framework was developed to predict the average social, spatial, and infrastructural properties of cities as a set of scaling relations that apply to all urban systems. Confirmation of these predictions was observed for thousands of cities worldwide, from many urban systems at different levels of development. Measures of urban efficiency, capturing the balance between socioeconomic outputs and infrastructural costs, were shown to be independent of city size and might be a useful means to evaluate urban planning strategies.

                Author and article information

                R Soc Open Sci
                R Soc Open Sci
                Royal Society Open Science
                The Royal Society
                July 2016
                13 July 2016
                13 July 2016
                : 3
                : 7
                Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems , Dresden, Germany
                Author notes
                Author for correspondence: E. G. Altmann e-mail: edugalt@

                One contribution to a special feature ‘City analytics: mathematical modelling and computational analytics for urban behaviour’.

                © 2016 The Authors.

                Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Funded by: Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology
                Award ID: SFRH/BD/90050/2012
                Special Feature
                City Analytics
                Custom metadata
                July, 2016

                allometry, statistical inference, scaling laws


                Comment on this article