Cite as: Boeing, G. 2017. “A Review of the Structure and Dynamics of Cities: Urban Data Analysis and Theoretical Modeling.” Journal of the American Planning Association, 83 (4), 418. doi:10.1080/01944363.2017.1362306
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An “urban physics” paradigm has emerged in recent years to argue that applying the scientific tools of physics to urban data and processes can yield important new insights into cities. New sources of human data have enabled this mode of inquiry into social phenomena. Urban physicists model these data using the quantitative toolkit of statistical physics and complex networks – preferring parsimonious models with few parameters – to identify patterns and fundamental relationships among the components of urban systems. Barthelemy is an important voice in this growing field, having written several seminal papers and monographs on statistical physics and its application to cities. His work on complex and spatial networks remains particularly noteworthy and has been extended by urban scholars to understand, explain, and model city form and circulation. Best of all, some of Barthelemy’s urban physics corpus presents grounded, straightforward lessons for planning practice (e.g., recent work examining Haussmann’s spatial reorganization of Paris) – a refreshing accomplishment in a field that too often embraces grand but vague and idealized theories of cities… read more.