Roberto Murcio led our work on applying ideas of information theory across scales so that mutual information can be transmitted one way, rather than symmetrically. The paper has just appeared in PLOS One. And you can Download the PDF from here. The abstract follows:
“The morphology of urban agglomeration is studied here in the context of information exchange between different spatio-temporal scales. Urban migration to and from cities is characterised as non-random and following non-random pathways. Cities are multidimensional non-linear phenomena, so understanding the relationships and connectivity between scales is important in determining how the interplay of local/regional urban policies may affect the distribution of urban settlements. In order to quantify these relationships, we follow an information theoretic approach using the concept of Transfer Entropy. Our analysis is based on a stochastic urban fractal model, which mimics urban growing settlements and migration waves. The results indicate how different policies could affect urban morphology in terms of the information generated across geographical scales.”
An interesting report funded by the MacArthur and Knight Foundations by Anthony Townsend of Smart Cities fame about the rapid emergence of urban science and the flurry of centres that have grown up in the wake of these new ideas as well as the development of smart cities and their technologies. We in CASA are earmarked as beginning the trend initially as a GIS-spatial analysis centre with a focus on cities – but way ahead of the curve – with some morphing of our mission towards new goals pertaining to modelling and visualisation using computers and cities within the last decade. The report also refers to my ESRC report Urban Informatics and Big Data which you can also download here alongside Anthony’s report.
Papers on the notion that physics can help us articulate our understanding of cities are not new but there are several recent commentaries worth looking at. There is a short sharp one pager that articulates the new science of cities as being a new urban physics from the folks at CUSP. Download it here. And at MIT, Franz-Josef Ulm considers cities to be structured like various forms of materials. See the summary of his thinking in MIT Spectrum and the article in The Boston Globe. There are many different views of how physics can help us understand cities from their materials to their sociology and economy. This has only just started and I will post more about it as it emerges.