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The city as a giant component: a random graph approach to Zipf's law

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  • Raja Kali

Abstract

The emergence of a 'city' out of a set of locations in space can be considered akin to the evolution of a random graph. Interaction between individuals who are connected to each other is at the source of the benefits associated with a city. If the interaction probability rises, a threshold is eventually crossed at which point most of the graph becomes connected, giving rise to a grand component. It is at this point that a viable 'city' emerges. This view suggests an interpretation of Zipf's law, which we test using US Census data.

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  • Raja Kali, 2003. "The city as a giant component: a random graph approach to Zipf's law," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(11), pages 717-720.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:apeclt:v:10:y:2003:i:11:p:717-720 DOI: 10.1080/1350485032000139006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Masahisa Fujita & Paul Krugman & Anthony J. Venables, 2001. "The Spatial Economy: Cities, Regions, and International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262561476, January.
    2. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
    3. E. Roy Weintraub, 1992. "Introduction," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 24(5), pages 3-12, Supplemen.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser, 1998. "Are Cities Dying?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 139-160, Spring.
    5. Krugman, Paul, 1996. "Confronting the Mystery of Urban Hierarchy," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 399-418, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Trincado, Estrella & Vindel, José María, 2015. "An application of econophysics to the history of economic thought: The analysis of texts from the frequency of appearance of key words," Economics Discussion Papers 2015-51, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

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