'Quantitative Urbanism' Reduces Cities to a Formula

Jerry Adler examines the emerging field of “quantitative urbanism,” which aims to use mathematical formulas to unveil and explain the universal properties shared by cities.

"Cities are particular: You would never mistake a favela in Rio de Janeiro for downtown Los Angeles. They are shaped by their histories and accidents of geography and climate," says Adler. "But cities are also, at a deep level, universal: the products of social, economic and physical principles that transcend space and time. A new science—so new it doesn’t have its own journal, or even an agreed-upon name—is exploring these laws. We will call it 'quantitative urbanism.' It’s an effort to reduce to mathematical formulas the chaotic, exuberant, extravagant nature of one of humanity’s oldest and most important inventions, the city."

“Give me the size of a city in the United States and I can tell you how many police it has, how many patents, how many AIDS cases,” says [Geoffrey West, one of the leaders in the field], “just as you can calculate the life span of a mammal from its body mass.”

Full Story: Life in the City Is Essentially One Giant Math Problem


Brand new! Urban Grid City Collection

Each city has its own unique story. Commemorate where you came from or where you want to go.
Grids and Guide Red book cover

Grids & Guides

A notebook for visual thinkers. Available in red and black.
Red necktie with map of Boston

Tie one on to celebrate your city!

Choose from over 20 styles imprinted with detailed city or transit maps.

Stay thirsty, urbanists

These sturdy water bottles are eco-friendly and perfect for urbanists on the go.