A Unique Educational & Career Opportunity with Stephen Wolfram

A unique opportunity to do original research at the frontiers of science, the Wolfram Science Summer School teaches about 50 students from a diverse range of scientific backgrounds how to use Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science and the Wolfram Language to implement projects in their fields of interest. Most of these students are advanced undergraduates and early graduate students, but those in different circumstances are considered. We are looking for students who want to enhance their careers with Wolfram Science and the Wolfram Language. Read more »

Class of 2006

Igor Lugo

Bio [2006]

Igor is currently studying for his PhD in economics at Mexico. He received his BS and MA in economics at the National University of Mexico (UNAM). He is interested in urban economics, urban spatial structures, evolutionary game theory, and simulations of artificial social systems.

Project Title

Urban Sprawl Patterns


The main goal of my project is to simulate urban sprawl by a sequential growth program. Applying rules for distance minimization and avoiding recent growth activity, I try to explain the growth of cities and their resulting urban patterns.

As depicted by Paul Krugman in his book, The Self-Organizing Economy (1996), the structures of cities are complex systems that exhibit spontaneous properties of self-organization. Looking at the landscape of cities in a satellite photo, it seems that any urban center has been mixed with different neighborhood structures that cohere into a city. The urban sprawl concept describes local urban patterns that come from land-use growth. Contiguous suburban growth, linear patterns of strip development, and leapfrog and scattered development are all examples of urban forms covered by urban sprawl. Sprawl has a close relationship to transportation networks, wherein the travel time between two points is considered an essential mobility cost. As a result, the urban system could be represented by distance field minimization approach.

The key question of my project is: What are the causes of urban sprawl? My thesis is that the causes depend on economic, social, and geographical individual preferences, which are determined by sequential application of heuristic distance rules. These rules elucidate preferences about the decision to move closer to or farther from cities.

Favorite Four-Color, Radius-1/2 Rule

Rule chosen: 3677321944