Chapter 3 Complex networks and fundamental urban processes
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Complex networks provide a particularly compelling theoretical and modeling approach to cities and urban systems. While cities are made of people, places and organizations, it is the social, economic and physical connections among these entities that start to reveal how and why cities exist, are sustained and grow (Hall 1998; Jacobs 1985). These connections also play a role in structuring individual entities themselves, for example, via firm interactions in markets, the role of institutions in shaping behavior and the general tendency for creating knowledge and labor specialization so characteristic of professional occupations in cities. Thus, a shift in perspective away from places and individuals, towards emphasizing various types of interaction networks has been advocated as one of the cornerstones for constructing a more integrated and general science of cities (Batty 2017; Bettencourt 2021), for emphasizing the importance of human ecological factors (Sampson 2012) and, even, as a general philosophical stance for capturing the complexity and fluidity of human social phenomena (Deleuze et al. 2012). Empirical and theoretical developments now underway are also starting to show how quantitative network properties and concepts constitute a natural target for developing general urban theory (Bettencourt 2013), beyond the descriptive statistics of data.

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