A Positive Theory of Network Connectivity

Recent working paper:


This paper develops a positive theory of network connectivity, seeking to explain the micro-foundations 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, whose structure resembles the early form of many Midwestern and Western (US) cities. The topological attributes for the networks are 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. In addition, road network topology undergoes clear phase changes as the economic values of parcels vary. The results demonstrate that even without a centralized authority, road networks have the property of self-organization and evolution, and, that in the absence of intervention, the tree-like or web-like nature of networks is a result of the underlying economics.

One thought on “A Positive Theory of Network Connectivity

  1. But this turns out to have the opposite implication (that self-organization of roads is bad) when you consider that real-world roads have traffic lights at intersections. The main lines, which are good in the model because they provide connectivity, become bad in the real world, because they have a stoplight every @#$! 200 feet.


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