Complex Dynamics and Fractal Urban Form

  • Roger White
  • Guy Engelen


A first-time visitor to Paris or Los Angeles, or any other city, is acutely aware that despite some relatively predictable features, cities are highly diverse and elaborately complicated. In terms of land use, residential, industrial, and commercial areas are interspersed with each other at various scales and in a variety of shapes. All cities, with the exception of some planned communities, have this intricate spatial quality, so it would seem to be important. Indeed, recent results in abstract systems theory support this conclusion. Work by Kauffman (1990), Langton (1990) and others suggests that only systems which are sufficiently complex — specifically, only systems that are nearly chaotic — have the ability to evolve. Since evolvability is clearly an essential characteristic of all living systems, including social systems, these results imply that cities must be inherently complex.


Fractal Dimension Cellular Automaton Urban Form Stochastic Perturbation Chaotic Regime 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger White
  • Guy Engelen

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