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LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

Small World

To the Editors:

Brian Hayes, in his column "Small-Town Story" (March–April), startled me with his ability in the short space of four pages to intuit, deduce, infer and summarize what geographers have been doing for at least 70 years. At least since the days of Walter Christaller, a German economic geographer who created central place theory in the 1930s, geographers and regional scientists have attempted to explain the size, location, spacing and hierarchical relationships of towns. Among other findings of those who succeeded Christaller was what is called the rank-size rule, which attempts to show empirically what others have theorized—that the sizes of cities within regions, small and large, are related in a fairly strict way such that a relatively simple mathematical function describes the association. For the discipline of geography, the pity is that much of its work on town size and location is not well known. The many contributions in this area are usually scattered about libraries in sections holding books on economics, sociology, rural sociology, travel and public policy. If it weren't for some of the new technologies, such as those associated with geographic information systems and satellite imagery, I am afraid that scientific geography would remain unknown to all but the most curious.

Arthur Getis
Journal of Geographical Systems
San Diego State University


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