SFI Presents a Talk on Cities Through the Ages

Michael E. Smith

SFI News:

The Santa Fe Institute will present a colloquium with Michael E. Smith of Arizona State University titled Cities through the Ages: One Thing or Many?

The colloquium will take place at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 23 in the Noyce Conference Room at the Santa Fe Institute. The event is free and open to the public.

Smith writes in his abstract to his talk, “I address the question of whether the urban scaling laws identified for modern cities by Bettencourt, West and others should apply to premodern cities. I propose a dichotomy between economic cities (mostly contemporary cities, whose growth is generated by agglomeration effects and commercial expansion) and political cities (mostly premodern cities, whose growth is dominated by political or administrative processes).”

“The growth processes of economic cities have been posited as the causes of the observed power law relationships. Because these economic processes were either absent or present in very much lower levels in political cities, it is unlikely that the same scaling relationships will obtain. The proof will be in the pudding, of course, once sufficient archaeological and historical data can be assembled to permit scaling analyses of regal cities. In the meantime, I explore some of the issues relevant to urban growth and change in political and economic cities.”

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