Title: Cities and roads as pattern formation of their co-evolving dynamics on real-world landscape
Abstract: Cities and their inter-connected transport networks form part of the fundamental infrastructure developed by human societies. Their organisation reflects a complex interplay between many natural and social factors, including inter alia natural resources, landscape, and climate on the one hand, combined with business, commerce, politics, diplomacy and culture on the other. Nevertheless, despite this complexity, there has been some success in capturing key aspects of city growth and network formation in relatively simple models that include non-linear positive feedback loops. However, these models are typically embedded in an idealised, homogeneous space, leading to regularly-spaced, lattice-like distributions arising from Turing-type pattern formation. Here we argue that the geographical landscape plays a much more dominant, but neglected role in pattern formation. To examine this hypothesis, we evaluate the weighted distance between locations based on a least cost path across the natural terrain, determined from high-resolution digital topographic databases for the Hokkaido region of Japan. These weights are included in a co-evolving, dynamical model of both population aggregation in cities, and movement via an evolving transport network. We compare the results from the stationary state of the system with current population distributions from census data, and show a reasonable fit, both qualitatively and quantitatively, compared with models in homogeneous space. Thus we infer that that addition of weighted topography from the natural landscape to these models is both necessary and almost sufficient to reproduce the majority of the real-world spatial pattern of city sizes and locations in this example.