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Discrete Dynamics in Nature and Society
Volume 2010, Article ID 194715, 22 pages
Research Article

Characterizing Growth and Form of Fractal Cities with Allometric Scaling Exponents

Department of Geography, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China

Received 9 August 2009; Revised 6 May 2010; Accepted 4 July 2010

Academic Editor: W. Ebeling

Copyright © 2010 Yanguang Chen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Fractal growth is a kind of allometric growth, and the allometric scaling exponents can be employed to describe growing fractal phenomena such as cities. The spatial features of the regular fractals can be characterized by fractal dimension. However, for the real systems with statistical fractality, it is incomplete to measure the structure of scaling invariance only by fractal dimension. Sometimes, we need to know the ratio of different dimensions rather than the fractal dimensions themselves. A fractal-dimension ratio can make an allometric scaling exponent (ASE). As compared with fractal dimension, ASEs have three advantages. First, the values of ASEs are easy to be estimated in practice; second, ASEs can reflect the dynamical characters of system's evolution; third, the analysis of ASEs can be made through prefractal structure with limited scale. Therefore, the ASEs based on fractal dimensions are more functional than fractal dimensions for real fractal systems. In this paper, the definition and calculation method of ASEs are illustrated by starting from mathematical fractals, and, then, China's cities are taken as examples to show how to apply ASEs to depiction of growth and form of fractal cities.