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Complexity and the City

Bird's eye vew of roadway
Cities worldwide are well known to be living laboratories to experiment on modeling, characterization, optimization, and control of complex systems. Complex phenomena, in fact, evolve within cities with multiple and intertwined space and time scales, yielding emerging behaviors whose explanation is never simple. Moreover, cities encompass networked systems very often overlapped or stacked in layers: information, transportation, power grids, epidemics, pedestrians, are just a few examples of such networks. To address the complexity of urban systems, a broad range of interdisciplinary topics should be covered that touch on issues from the network science, cyber–physical systems, to policy and finance perspectives in smart cities.

This special issue aims to collect contributions aiming at modeling, characterizing, optimizing, and controlling complex and networked systems, with a particular focus on urban environments. 

Topics of interest include but are not limited to theoretical aspects, algorithms, methods, and fields of applications, such as: 

  • Epidemic spreading
  • Social networks
  • Information and misinformation spreading 
  • Pedestrian dynamics and human behavior in cities
  • Transportation networks and urban mobility
  • Complexity of urban IoT systems 
  • City monitoring strategies and techniques 
  • Urban planning 
  • Citizen science experiments 
  • Financial systems 
  • Diffusion of policies


Lead guest editor
Alessandro Rizzo, Politecnico di Torino, Italy 

Guest editors
Luca Maria Aiello, Nokia Bell Labs, UK
Amin Anjomshoaa, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Elsa Arcaute, University College London, UK
Neal Zachary, Michigan State University, USA


  1. Traffic is a challenge in rural and urban areas alike with negative effects ranging from congestion to air pollution. Ride-sharing poses an appealing alternative to personal cars, combining the traffic-reducin...

    Authors: Debsankha Manik and Nora Molkenthin

    Citation: Applied Network Science 2020 5:49

    Content type: Research

    Published on:

  2. The objective of this research is to evaluate whether complex dynamics of urban drainage networks (UDNs) can be expressed in terms of their structure, i.e. topological characteristics. The present study focuse...

    Authors: Julian D. Reyes-Silva, Jonatan Zischg, Christopher Klinkhamer, P. Suresh C. Rao, Robert Sitzenfrei and Peter Krebs

    Citation: Applied Network Science 2020 5:1

    Content type: Research

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  3. Labour mobility within a large city or metropolitan area is a necessary condition for the optimal exploitation of agglomeration economies. We propose a method to establish which municipalities should be consid...

    Authors: Neave O’Clery, Rafael Prieto Curiel and Eduardo Lora

    Citation: Applied Network Science 2019 4:118

    Content type: Research

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  4. A long-standing question for urban and regional planners pertains to the ability to describe urban patterns quantitatively. Cities’ transport infrastructure, particularly street networks, provides an invaluabl...

    Authors: Kira Kempinska and Roberto Murcio

    Citation: Applied Network Science 2019 4:114

    Content type: Research

    Published on:

  5. Urbanization and the continued growth of cities, both demographically and spatially, are topics of research studied across a range of disciplines in the urban millennium — a time in history when the majority o...

    Authors: Amanda Shores, Hanna Johnson, Debbie Fugate and Melinda Laituri

    Citation: Applied Network Science 2019 4:109

    Content type: Case study

    Published on:

  6. Directed contact networks (DCNs) are temporal networks that are useful for analyzing and modeling phenomena in transportation, communications, epidemiology and social networking. Specific sequences of contacts ca...

    Authors: George Cybenko and Steve Huntsman

    Citation: Applied Network Science 2019 4:106

    Content type: Research

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  7. Humans predominantly form their beliefs based on communication with other humans rather than direct observations, even on matters of facts, such as the shape of the globe or the effects of child vaccinations. ...

    Authors: Evelin Berekméri, Imre Derényi and Anna Zafeiris

    Citation: Applied Network Science 2019 4:101

    Content type: Research

    Published on:

  8. Recent disasters have shown the existence of large variance in recovery trajectories across cities that have experienced similar damage levels. Case studies of such events reveal the high complexity of the rec...

    Authors: Takahiro Yabe, Satish V. Ukkusuri and P. Suresh C. Rao

    Citation: Applied Network Science 2019 4:98

    Content type: Research

    Published on:

    The Correction to this article has been published in Applied Network Science 2020 5:4

  9. This paper proposes a methodological approach to explore the ability to detect social media users based on pedestrian networks and neighborhood attributes. We propose the use of a detection function belonging ...

    Authors: Victor H. Masias, Tobias Hecking, Fernando Crespo and H. Ulrich Hoppe

    Citation: Applied Network Science 2019 4:96

    Content type: Research

    Published on:

    The Correction to this article has been published in Applied Network Science 2019 4:113