Complex Questions for the Study of Urban Agglomerations – Khalil Martin

July 26, 2019 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Sandford Fleming Building, ITS Lab and Testbed, Room SF3103
10 King's College Road
3rd Floor
Pat Doherty
(416) 978-4175

Join us for Khalil Martin’s MASc thesis presentation, “Complex Questions for the Study of Urban Agglomerations.” All are welcome.


Why do cities exist? Which is more conducive to grow: specialization or diversity? Are successful human societies more cooperative or more competitive? In what way do economies evolve?

This thesis presentation reexamines the ontologies commonly used to study urban agglomerations and sketches a new framework for answering some complex problems posed of them.

It takes the view of the city as, simultaneously:

  1. a social reactor,
  2. an information processing super-network, and
  3. a dynamic semi-lattice of associations.

It places the benefits of proximity, not only in how it reduces the cost of transporting goods, people, and ideas, but also how it allows principle-agent monitoring, subconscious synergizing processes, and spontaneous changes in social and economic association.

It introduces the familiar concept of adaptive capability and proposes an emphasis on this concept over the concept of dynamic externalities found in much of the literature. While the latter considers the firm to be the primary unit of analysis in the study of urban agglomerations, the former places the city itself as primary – with its interrelated institutions, cultures and material conditions – facilitating the spontaneous association and re-association of dynamic, heterogeneous individuals.

Khalil Martin poses outside

Khalil Martin

Khalil Martin is a student, under the supervision of Professor Eric J. Miller, of urban environments, entering the Transportation Engineering + Planning MASc program with experience in Business Planning for the creation of the Union Pearson Express, Construction Management for TTC Second Exit and Easier Access projects, and Transportation Demand Modelling for the consultancy IBI Group. The breadth of his reading surpasses the breadth of his work experiences. In his learning, he seeks to find intuitive handles for understanding and managing complex systems.