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The rank-size scaling law and entropy-maximizing principle

  • Chen, Yanguang
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    The rank-size regularity known as Zipf’s law is one of the scaling laws and is frequently observed in the natural living world and social institutions. Many scientists have tried to derive the rank-size scaling relation through entropy-maximizing methods, but they have not been entirely successful. By introducing a pivotal constraint condition, I present here a set of new derivations based on the self-similar hierarchy of cities. First, I derive a pair of exponent laws by postulating local entropy maximizing. From the two exponential laws follows a general hierarchical scaling law, which implies the general form of Zipf’s law. Second, I derive a special hierarchical scaling law with the exponent equal to 1 by postulating global entropy maximizing, and this implies the pure form of Zipf’s law. The rank-size scaling law has proven to be one of the special cases of the hierarchical scaling law, and the derivation suggests a certain scaling range with the first or the last data point as an outlier. The entropy maximization of social systems differs from the notion of entropy increase in thermodynamics. For urban systems, entropy maximizing suggests the greatest equilibrium between equity for parts/individuals and efficiency of the whole.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378437111005577
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications.

    Volume (Year): 391 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 767-778

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:391:y:2012:i:3:p:767-778
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/physica-a-statistical-mechpplications/

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