Complexity Analysis of an Urban System

Complexity Analysis of an Urban System

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3683-3.ch002


Urban system is comprised of different attributes. The possibility of variation in the characteristics of these attributes cannot be ignored. In addition, human component is significant in shaping the characteristics of it. It has dynamic characteristics and difficult to measure the cognitive characteristics of it. Furthermore, their characteristics may vary with the context. Consequently, there is a huge likelihood that it may act as a bias in shaping the behavior of a city. In addition, the way different attributes interact with each other hugely influences a city. This chapter explains the meaning of complexity in the context of urban sciences. It also provides detail about the possibility of containing randomness and inconsistency using complexity analysis of urban systems. Having read this chapter, the readers will certainly develop a strong understanding about the complexity analysis. And it would help them to implement the learning in the investigations related to urban systems.
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Urban system can be represented by a set of elements. Here, the term ‘elements’ may correspond to different attributes of a city. These attributes are either different components of a city, or the factors which can influence the characteristics of a city. These attributes of the urban system can be correlated with each other. They may be entirely different form each other. But, there is one thing which they have in common: they are either occurring due to human activities, or they are in service for human race. It suggests the possibility that the centre of the urban framework is a human component. Therefore, there is nothing happening in the urban domain which does not touch the human component. And, that makes an urban event a complex affair as there is always a possibility that the behavior of the event is influenced by the cognitive characteristics of the city. But, before thinking the impact of cognition on the characteristics of an urban event, we need to be clear about the fact that any event in the urban domain is a consequence of the combination of different factors. Therefore, in no way, it can be claimed that urban events may happen in isolation. That means an urban event is the function of different attributes of a city. Now, there are few things need to be clarified at this stage. First, as mentioned earlier, these attributes may have similar characteristics, or may be entirely different from each other. The first point needs to be extended to different possibilities. Beginning with the first possibility, the characteristics of different attributes which are in the form of independent variables for the function have similar characteristics. Then methods for assessment and characterization of these attributes would be same. That means the issue of compatibility of different tools and techniques in studying the urban event would not be an issue in this case. And once the possible issue related to compatibility is resolved, it can be assured that inconsistency due to application of different methods is not a possibility. There is a second possibility that attributes are not of similar characteristics. Consequently, it is not possible to use a similar set of tools and techniques to assess and characterize the attributes. There would be a need of different techniques or methods to capture, store, and process them. However, it is not an easy task. At this point of time, there are further possibilities which need to be considered. If the characteristics of attributes are different from each other then we need to check that the class of the attributes is entirely different from each other, or the intrinsic characteristics of the class are different. For instance, an urban event is dependent on six independent variables. And all of the attributes belong to a class which can be represented or characterized using objective frameworks. The meaning of objective framework in the present context corresponds to the methods which do not employ subjective approaches in characterizing an event. But there can be another side of this possibility. Some of the attributes can be represented using objective frameworks, and rest of the attributes cannot be assessed using objective methods. Therefore, we need a different set of methodologies, or say, methods which can effectively capture, store, and process these attributes possessing different characteristics. In addition, as mentioned earlier, an urban event is the consequence of the combination of different factors. That means there must be a framework which can effectively integrate the set of methods having different characteristics. For example, one of the attribute is completely defined or characterized using a quantified method. And the other is characterized using a qualitative method. Then there are a few points need to be considered while analyzing these variables at this stage.

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