Gabriel Garcia for the Santa Fe Institute

Cities have been compared to everything from beehives to river networks, but most of these metaphors fall short. In the Santa Fe New Mexican, SFI Professor Luis Bettencourt looks to the data to suggest a new way of thinking about how cities function and grow.

The column is the latest in the "Science In a Complex World" series written by SFI researchers and published in the New Mexican.

"When we take such a mathematical look at the way real cities grow and function, it becomes clear that cities are, in fact, something new in nature," Bettencourt writes. "They are part star and part network."

Bettencourt then offers some advice to policy makers: "To keep our cities working optimally, planners will need to think in terms of creating positive social interactions at low costs. City features that create obstacles to socialization, such as crime or segregation, or that promote the ability of people to connect, such as transportation and electricity, must all be part of the same equation."

Read the article in the Santa Fe New Mexican (July 15, 2013)

Read Bettencourt's recent paper in Science (June 20, 2013)