Structural properties of planar graphs of urban street patterns

Alessio Cardillo, Salvatore Scellato, Vito Latora, Sergio Porta

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209 Citations (Scopus)


Recent theoretical and empirical studies have focused on the structural properties of complex relational networks in social, biological, and technological systems. Here we study the basic properties of twenty 1-square-mile samples of street patterns of different world cities. Samples are turned into spatial valued graphs. In such graphs, the nodes are embedded in the two-dimensional plane and represent street intersections, the edges represent streets, and the edge values are equal to the street lengths. We evaluate the local properties of the graphs by measuring the meshedness coefficient and counting short cycles (of three, four, and five edges), and the global properties by measuring global efficiency and cost. We also consider, as extreme cases, minimal spanning trees (MST) and greedy triangulations (GT) induced by the same spatial distribution of nodes. The measures found in the real and the artificial networks are then compared. Surprisingly, cities of the same class, e.g., grid-iron or medieval, exhibit roughly similar properties. The correlation between a priori known classes and statistical properties is illustrated in a plot of relative efficiency vs cost.
Original languageEnglish
Article number066107
Number of pages8
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2006


  • structural properties
  • relational networks
  • urban street patterns

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