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Nat Commun. 2013;4:1961. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2961.

Urban characteristics attributable to density-driven tie formation.

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Media Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Motivated by empirical evidence on the interplay between geography, population density and societal interaction, we propose a generative process for the evolution of social structure in cities. Our analytical and simulation results predict both super-linear scaling of social-tie density and information contagion as a function of the population. Here we demonstrate that our model provides a robust and accurate fit for the dependency of city characteristics with city-size, ranging from individual-level dyadic interactions (number of acquaintances, volume of communication) to population level variables (contagious disease rates, patenting activity, economic productivity and crime) without the need to appeal to heterogeneity, modularity, specialization or hierarchy.

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