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A Positive Theory of Network Connectivity

  • David Levinson


  • Arthur Huang

    (Nexus (Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems) Research Group, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota)

This paper develops a positive theory of network connectivity, seeking to explain the micro-foundations of alternative network topologies as the result of self-interested actors. By building roads, landowners hope to increase their parcelsÕ accessibility and economic value. A simulation model is performed on a grid-like land use layer with a downtown in the center, whose structure resembles the early form of many Midwestern and Western (US) cities. The topological attributes for the networks are evaluated. This research posits that road networks experience an evolutionary process where a tree-like structure first emerges around the centered parcel before the network pushes outward to the periphery. In addition, road network topology undergoes clear phase changes as the economic values of parcels vary. The results demonstrate that even without a centralized authority, road networks have the property of self-organization and evolution, and, that in the absence of intervention, the tree-like or web-like nature of networks is a result of the underlying economics.

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Paper provided by University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group in its series Working Papers with number 000084.

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Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Environment and Planning Part B 39(2), pp. 308-325
Handle: RePEc:nex:wpaper:theoryofconnectivity
Contact details of provider: Postal: Dept. of Civil Engineering, 500 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455
Phone: +01 (612) 625-6354
Fax: +01 (612) 626-7750
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  1. Paul Anderson & David Levinson & Pavithra Parthasarathi, 2011. "Accessibility Futures," Working Papers 000088, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
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