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Simulation of land development through the integration of cellular automata and multicriteria evaluation

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Abstract

Cellular automata (CA) simulation has become a popular method of exploring the behaviour of all kinds of self-organising systems. The city may clearly be viewed as such a system but one with a particularly complex set of transition rules. Many natural processes such as the spread of fire or vegetation can be modelled by a simple set of local rules. Insofar as the development of a piece of land depends on the neighbourhood situation as well as on the characteristics of a site, urban evolution can be treated in much the same way, with transition rules translating the evaluation of the location into a land conversion outcome. If this modelling paradigm is to be used to gain insight into real-world urban development processes, there is a need to discover ways of capturing the richness of land conversion behaviour in the simplifying mechanisms of CA. Our paper contributes to this research agenda by integrating multicriteria evaluation (MCE) into a CA simulation in order to define nondeterministic, multidimensional, and multilevel transition rules. An analytical hierarchy process is used to implement MCE-derived transition rules. The integrated MCE - CA model may be used in a gaming mode to explore how urban form evolves under different development regimes caricatured by the set of multicriteria weights. We use it to test loosely hypotheses about the nature of the regimes that have governed the expansion of a fast-growing southern Chinese city.

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