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The rank-size rule and fractal hierarchies of cities: mathematical models and empirical analyses

Listed author(s):
  • Yanguang Chen
  • Yixing Zhou
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    This paper contributes to the demonstration that the self-similar city hierarchies with cascade structure can be modeled with a pair of scaling laws reflecting the recursive process of urban systems. First we transform the Beckmann's model on city hierarchies and generalize Davis's 2 n -rule to an r n -rule on the size - number relationship of cities ( r > 1), and then reduce both Beckmann's and Davis's models to a pair of scaling laws taking the form of exponentials. Then we derive an exact three-parameter Zipf-type model from the scaling laws to revise the commonly used two-parameter Zipf model. By doing so, we reveal the fractal essence of central place hierarchies and link the rank - size rule to central place model logically. The new mathematical frameworks are applied to the class counts of the 1950 - 70 world city hierarchy presented by Davis in 1978, and several alternative approaches are illustrated to estimate the fractal dimension.

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    Article provided by Pion Ltd, London in its journal Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design.

    Volume (Year): 30 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 6 (November)
    Pages: 799-818

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    Handle: RePEc:pio:envirb:v:30:y:2003:i:6:p:799-818
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