Geoffrey West’s talk for Edge, Why Cities Keep Growing, Corporations and People Always Die, and Life Gets Faster, provides a nice overview on universal scaling in urban systems, part of his attempts to produce a “quantitative predictive, mathematizible kind of science” for cities.

The talk outlines West’s interests in parallels between biological, urban and business growth. His much reported claims regard the scaling (as a power law) of diverse urban metrics with population size. Super-linear scaling of productivity markers for cities suggest increasing returns, whilst sub-linear scaling of infrastructural costs associated with cities suggest economies of scale, all in all providing an optimistic view of cities’ role in human civilisation.

See Also: Allometry, Network, Morphogenesis, Shanghai 1990-2010