Symposium: Cities as Complex Systems – Structure, Scaling and Economics


Symposium Dates: July 13th – 15th, 2016

Symposium Location: Herrenhausen Palace, Hanover

For more than a century, quantitative approaches have been used to investigate cities. Recently, urban allometry – in the form of a super- or sub-linear dependence of an urban indicator on the population size – has been reported, causing a ripple in the general interested scientific community, since for some interpretations, large cities are considered more efficient e.g. in terms of patents or gross domestic product. The question whether small or large cities are more efficient is very relevant as illustrated by the CO2 emissions attributed to them. However, most recent studies question the universality of urban allometry. One key problem is how the definition of cities influences the scaling exponents. In particular, a simple coherent theory of urban allometry is missing, which then would be consistent with the economics of cities, their diversity, and their geography, i.e. taking space into account.


Therefore, the symposium “Cities as Complex Systems (CTCS) – Structure, Scaling, and Economics” aims at a critical inspection and a constructive discussion, with the promise of new research ideas and innovative science. The three overarching topics of the symposium – which is generously funded by VolkswagenFoundation – are urban allometry, urban economics, and urban morphology – unifying the three would represent a breakthrough in the science of cities. We are glad that we could form a group of 45 researchers from such diverse fields like physics, economics, or geography to discuss and investigate cities as complex systems.