2012 volume 39(2) pages 308 – 325
doi:10.1068/b37094

Cite as:
Levinson D, Huang A, 2012, "A positive theory of network connectivity" Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 39(2) 308 – 325

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A positive theory of network connectivity

David Levinson, Arthur Huang

Received 14 July 2010; in revised form 13 January 2011

Abstract. In this paper we develop a positive theory of network connectivity, seeking to provide the microfoundations of alternative network topologies as the result of self-interested actors. By building roads, landowners hope to increase their parcels’ accessibility and economic value. A simulation model is performed on a grid-like land-use layer with a downtown in the center. The degree to which the networks are tree-like is 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. Road network topology becomes increasingly connected as the accessibility value of reaching other parcels increases. The results demonstrate that, even without a centralized authority, road networks can display the property of self-organization and evolution, and that, in the absence of intervention, the degree to which a network structure is tree-like or web-like results from the underlying economies.

Keywords: road network, network growth, network structure, treeness, circuitness, topology

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