Research activities

Research activities

“I have authored or co-authored sixteen books (from Entropy in urban and regional modelling in 1970, to Complex spatial systems, published in 2000) and over two hundred papers. (My work has been translated into Russian, Spanish, Korean, Japanese and Chinese.) I was Editor of the monthly Environment and Planning, A from 1969 to 1991, and am now Honorary Editor.

My research interests have been concerned with many aspects of mathematical modelling and the use of models in planning in relation to all aspects of cities and regions – including demography, economic input-output modelling, transport and locational structures. I have been responsible for the introduction of a number of model building techniques which are now in common use internationally. The use of the concept of entropy in building spatial interaction models was a significant innovation – summarised in Entropy in urban and regional modelling. These models have been widely used in areas such as transport planning. I made contributions through the deployment of accounts’ concepts in demography and economic modelling – the former fully documented in Spatial demographic analysis (jointly with Philip Rees).

In recent years I have been particularly concerned with applications of dynamical systems theory in relation to the task of modelling the evolution of urban structure – initially described in Catastrophe theory and bifurcation: applications to urban and regional systems. This led to the laying of the foundations of a comprehensive theory of urban dynamics described in Complex spatial systems. This research programme has been underpinned by an ambition to articulate a general model of cities and regions first described in Urban and regional models in geography and planning. I have also been interested, within this programme, in the ways in which different mathematical techniques can be optimally brought to bear on model-building tasks.

My current research is on dynamic models at the urban and regional scales and most recently at the global scale in a research programme supported by EPSRC.

Much of my research has been successfully commercialised in the past – mainly through the development of GMAP Ltd – see above – and the projects that it has spawned within many commercial companies. The methods developed are still being applied on a global basis. Recently, through Oakleigh Consulting, I have been advising Nakheel, a major Government-owned developer in Dubai, on its planning systems.

In recent years, in addition to my core research work, I have acquired considerable knowledge of all education sectors. I have been working over the last eighteen months as a consultant for Cisco Systems Inc. on education policy, first through their programme to assist in the redevelopment of schools in Louisiana and Mississippi following the Katrina hurricane which devasted New Orleans and the surrounding region. I have been associated with the Cisco Education White Paper published inMay 2008.

I am actively concerned with the development of arts and social science disciplines. I have chaired a group for the British Academy on the roles of Humanities and Social Science Research in the Development of Government Policy which produced the Punching our weight report (and I recently gave evidence to the Council for Science and Technology’s project on this subject.) I chair the Arts and Humanities Research Council. I am a Board member of the Foundation for Science and Technology. I chaired SCORE for three years, a partnership of learned societies convened by the Royal Society, to support development in science education.”

Research summary

Many aspects of mathematical modelling and the use of models in planning in relation to all aspects of cities and regions – including demography, economic input-output modelling, transport and locational structures. These techniques are now in common use internationally – including the use of the concept of entropy in building spatial interaction models – summarised in Entropy in urban and regional modelling (re-issued in 2011). These models have been widely used in areas such as transport planning, demography and economic modellingMore recently, the applications of dynamical systems theory in relation to modelling the evolution of urban structure. This led to the laying of the foundations of a comprehensive theory of urban dynamics described in Complex spatial systems.

 

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