The surprising math of cities and corporations: Geoffrey West on

Posted by: Emily McManus

Physicist Geoffrey West has found that simple, mathematical laws govern the properties of cities — that wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other aspects of a city can be deduced from a single number: the city’s population. In this mind-bending talk from TEDGlobal he shows how it works and how similar laws hold for organisms and corporations. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2011, July 2011, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Duration: 17:33.)

Watch Geoffrey West’s talk on, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 900+ TEDTalks.

Comments (5)

  • Pingback: Colbytraxion 005 |

  • Pingback: The Tortoise and Hair Redux… | The Viral Loop…

  • Paul Harvey commented on Sep 7 2011


  • CLIFF CANNON commented on Aug 2 2011

    Extraordinary! I reel from the info in this talk. I wanted to study mathematics in college, did something different, and now the power of math fascinates me yet again. I still gravitate towards popular books where statistics and math cover tilting points, innumeracies, and so on. With my low tolerance for speeches (developed by watching too much broadcast news), I found myself hanging onto the speaker’s every word and stunned by his unravelling of each discovery. Thankfully I found this talk during my high intellectual biorhythm, so each idea had amazing clarity. I appeciate the offering of this lecture.

  • Mahadevan Venkatakrishnan commented on Jul 27 2011

    This seems inane… true to how he started saying the research was done by others and he was just the BSer…this is long winding, confusing and abstract with no real learnings. Just one point he is proving, all economics/nations/growth follow the universal ‘s’ curve; nothing new or original. Disappointed.