Michael Batty

Director, Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis

University College London


"It has taken more than 50 years for us to even begin to approach this goal but I am more confident than ever that what is happening now in economics and physics will eventually lead to what Hari Seldon in Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy called the 'science of psychohistory', what Herbert Simon called 'The Sciences of the Artificial', and what Jane Jacobs refers to as the organised complexity of cities. It will take another 50 years, for sure, to make significant progress but much of what we do in CASA is supportive of this wider quest."

Recent book chapter: Cities: Continuity, Transformation and Emergence

Chapter 3, from E Garnsey and J McGlade (Eds), Complexity and Co-Evolution: Continuity and CHange in Socio-Economic Systems

Author, Cities and Complexity



"As urban planning moves from a centralized, top-down approach to a decentralized, bottom-up perspective, our conception of urban systems is changing. In Cities and Complexity, Michael Batty offers a comprehensive view of urban dynamics in the context of complexity theory, presenting models that demonstrate how complexity theory can embrace a myriad of processes and elements that combine into organic wholes. He argues that bottom-up processes -- in which the outcomes are always uncertain -- can combine with new forms of geometry associated with fractal patterns and chaotic dynamics to provide theories that are applicable to highly complex systems such as cities.

"Batty begins with models based on cellular automata (CA), simulating urban dynamics through the local actions of automata. He then introduces agent-based models (ABM), in which agents are mobile and move between locations. These models relate to many scales, from the scale of the street to patterns and structure at the scale of the urban region. Finally, Batty develops applications of all these models to specific urban situations, discussing concepts of criticality, threshold, surprise, novelty, and phase transition in the context of spatial developments. Every theory and model presented in the book is developed through examples that range from the simplified and hypothetical to the actual. Deploying extensive visual, mathematical, and textual material, Cities and Complexity will be read both by urban researchers and by complexity theorists with an interest in new kinds of computational models."

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