Michael Batty

Michael Batty is Bartlett Professor of Planning at University College London and the author of Cities and Complexity and The New Science of Cities, both published by the MIT Press.

  • Inventing Future Cities

    Inventing Future Cities

    Michael Batty

    How we can invent—but not predict—the future of cities.

    We cannot predict future cities, but we can invent them. Cities are largely unpredictable because they are complex systems that are more like organisms than machines. Neither the laws of economics nor the laws of mechanics apply; cities are the product of countless individual and collective decisions that do not conform to any grand plan. They are the product of our inventions; they evolve. In Inventing Future Cities, Michael Batty explores what we need to understand about cities in order to invent their future.

    Batty outlines certain themes—principles—that apply to all cities. He investigates not the invention of artifacts but inventive processes. Today form is becoming ever more divorced from function; information networks now shape the traditional functions of cities as places of exchange and innovation. By the end of this century, most of the world's population will live in cities, large or small, sometimes contiguous, and always connected; in an urbanized world, it will be increasingly difficult to define a city by its physical boundaries.

    Batty discusses the coming great transition from a world with few cities to a world of all cities; argues that future cities will be defined as clusters in a hierarchy; describes the future “high-frequency,” real-time streaming city; considers urban sprawl and urban renewal; and maps the waves of technological change, which grow ever more intense and lead to continuous innovation—an unending process of creative destruction out of which future cities will emerge.

    • Hardcover $27.95
  • The New Science of Cities

    The New Science of Cities

    Michael Batty

    A proposal for a new way to understand cities and their design not as artifacts but as systems composed of flows and networks.

    In The New Science of Cities, Michael Batty suggests that to understand cities we must view them not simply as places in space but as systems of networks and flows. To understand space, he argues, we must understand flows, and to understand flows, we must understand networks—the relations between objects that comprise the system of the city. Drawing on the complexity sciences, social physics, urban economics, transportation theory, regional science, and urban geography, and building on his own previous work, Batty introduces theories and methods that reveal the deep structure of how cities function.

    Batty presents the foundations of a new science of cities, defining flows and their networks and introducing tools that can be applied to understanding different aspects of city structure. He examines the size of cities, their internal order, the transport routes that define them, and the locations that fix these networks. He introduces methods of simulation that range from simple stochastic models to bottom-up evolutionary models to aggregate land-use transportation models. Then, using largely the same tools, he presents design and decision-making models that predict interactions and flows in future cities. These networks emphasize a notion with relevance for future research and planning: that design of cities is collective action.

    • Hardcover $50.00
    • Paperback $35.00
  • Cities and Complexity

    Cities and Complexity

    Understanding Cities with Cellular Automata, Agent-Based Models, and Fractals

    Michael Batty

    Mario Carpo provides a subtle and insightful discussion of the intellectual structures that guide architectural composition and the ways that these structures were transformed by the historic shifts from script to print and from hand-made drawings to mechanically reproduced images. He goes on to suggest that the current shift from print to digital representations will have similarly profound consequences. This is a crucial text for anyone interested in the interrelationships of media and design processes.

    As urban planning moves from a centralized, top-down approach to a decentralized, bottom-up perspective, our conception of urban systems is changing. In Cities and Complexity, Michael Batty offers a comprehensive view of urban dynamics in the context of complexity theory, presenting models that demonstrate how complexity theory can embrace a myriad of processes and elements that combine into organic wholes. He argues that bottom-up processes—in which the outcomes are always uncertain—can combine with new forms of geometry associated with fractal patterns and chaotic dynamics to provide theories that are applicable to highly complex systems such as cities.

    Batty begins with models based on cellular automata (CA), simulating urban dynamics through the local actions of automata. He then introduces agent-based models (ABM), in which agents are mobile and move between locations. These models relate to many scales, from the scale of the street to patterns and structure at the scale of the urban region. Finally, Batty develops applications of all these models to specific urban situations, discussing concepts of criticality, threshold, surprise, novelty, and phase transition in the context of spatial developments. Every theory and model presented in the book is developed through examples that range from the simplified and hypothetical to the actual. Deploying extensive visual, mathematical, and textual material, Cities and Complexity will be read both by urban researchers and by complexity theorists with an interest in new kinds of computational models.

    Sample chapters and examples from the book, and other related material, can be found at http://www.complexcity.info