The statistical physics of the cities   

imgIn this review Marc Barthelemy describes how statistical physics helps understand some of the key aspects of cities. Modelling the structure and evolution of cities became critical because policy makers need robust theories and new paradigms for mitigating problems arising with their growth. Fortunately, the increased data available about urban systems opens the possibility of constructing a quantitative ‘science of cities’ with the aim of identifying and modelling essential phenomena. Statistical physics plays a major role in this effort by bringing tools and concepts able to bridge theory and empirical results. This article illustrates this point by focusing on fundamental objects in cities: the distribution of urban population, segregation phenomena and spin like models, the polycentric transition of the activity organization, energy considerations about mobility and models inspired by gravity and radiation concepts, CO2 emitted by transport, and finally scaling that describes how various socio-economical and infrastructures evolve when cities grow.

Nature Reviews Physics (2019):

C. Pepin, 2019-05-09


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