Two classes of scaling behaviours, namely the super-linear scaling of links or activities, and the sub-linear scaling of area, diversity, or time elapsed with respect to size have been found to prevail in the growth of complex networked systems. Despite some pioneering modelling approaches proposed for specific systems, whether there exists some general mechanisms that account for the origins of such scaling behaviours in different contexts, especially in socioeconomic systems, remains an open question. We address this problem by introducing a geometric network model without free parameter, finding that both super-linear and sub-linear scaling behaviours can be simultaneously reproduced and that the scaling exponents are exclusively determined by the dimension of the Euclidean space in which the network is embedded. We implement some realistic extensions to the basic model to offer more accurate predictions for cities of various scaling behaviours and the Zipf distribution reported in the literature and observed in our empirical studies. All of the empirical results can be precisely recovered by our model with analytical predictions of all major properties. By virtue of these general findings concerning scaling behaviour, our models with simple mechanisms gain new insights into the evolution and development of complex networked systems.
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- Digital object identifier: 10.1038/srep09767
- Identifier TypeInternational standard serial numberIdentifier Value1838-7640