CITIES, ANTHILLS AND BEEHIVES. CONCLUSIONS FROM ANALYZING SCALING LAW RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN CHOSEN URBAN FEATURES WITH SELF-ORGANIZING MAPS.
Is it possible to learn more from the fact that cities are subject to scaling laws, than just about their complexity? It is often pointed out that along with the increase in size, some important characteristics of cities do not grow linearly but exponentially - in some cases - as in the case of infrastructure development - with an exponent smaller than one; and in some, as in the case of residents’ income - with an exponent greater than one. This means that larger cities use the acquired resources more effectively. But does it mean anything else? This article is an attempt to critically summarize the knowledge which the scaling laws bring to the science of cities. The research carried out on all Polish cities, and implementing Self-Organizing Maps, indicate relatively small cognitive benefits from the search for evidence that subsequent areas of the functioning of cities are being subject to scaling laws.Yes – the results of statistical analyzes show, that the characteristics of cities, considered important to their development, do not show linear relationships with the number of inhabitants. Yes – the scaling laws between many features of the city, and the exponent of this kind of distribution close to 1 are important because they indicate the existence of strong and complex relationships between elements of the system. In large cities, this phenomenon is expected and confirmed many times. But the exponent changes over time and does not show any correlation with changes in the population. The question therefore should no longer be: “Are cities complex and which of their features are subject to scaling laws?”, but: “What makes them complex and which properties are responsible for being subject to these laws?”.
Keywords: features of city growth, city wealth, scaling laws, scaling exponent, self-organizing maps
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