François Sémécurbe is denfending his PhD thesis : Analysis of the spatial distribution of human settlements : Contributions and limitations of multi-scale and trans-scale indicators


The defense will take place in Besançon at the University of Franche-Comté at Salon Préclin, UFR SLHS on september 25th at 2 pm.


This work was directed by Cécile Tannier, Senior researcher at CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research).


Defense jury

Elsa Arcaute - Associate professor, CASA, University College London
Giovanni Fusco - Associate researcher "HDR" at CNRS, laboratory ESPACE, Nice
Didier Josselin - Director of Research CNRS, laboratory ESPACE, Avignon
Julien Perret - Director of Research LASTIG, Paris
Pierre Frankhauser - Emeritus Professor at the University of Franche-Comté, laboratory ThéMA
Stéphane Roux - Lecturer – HDR, ENS de Lyon, laboratory of physics



As human beings, it is easy for us to judge visually whether a distribution is dispersed or concentrated. However, the quantitative formalization of our impressions is problematic. It depends on the scales of the chosen analysis. This dependence of indicators on scales has changed. It is initially considered as a barrier to knowledge, it now reflects the multi-scale organisation of the distributions studied. The central objective of this thesis is to investigate the limits and contribution of multi-scale and trans-scale indicators to the study of the spatial distributions of human settlements. Spatial analysis aims at comparing spatial distributions to a uniform distribution. The way in which spatial distributions move away from this reference is used to characterize the multi-scale organization of the analyzed distributions. The application of these methods to human settlements has not been satisfactory. The use of an exogenous reference is not adapted to distributions that are very unevenly concentrated in space. Fractal analysis used in urban geography considers that the analysed distributions are their own measurement standard. Fractal dimensions measure how the space occupied by them evolves across scales. This type of analysis requires a regularity between scales, the invariance of scale whose existence is not verified on all territories. Trans-scale analysis generalises the principles of fractal analysis to all distributions and makes it possible to characterise the unequal concentration of human settlements in rural and urban territories.