Multi-scaled and dynamic patterns are at the heart of studies concerning this line of research. These works benefit from spectacular progress over the past few years in the fields of information systems and geographical databases (data intelligence, knowledge systems), of statistics (multi-level analysis, contextual effects), of computer science (agent-based platforms, parallel processing, genetic algorithms) and of complex systems (concepts of emergence, of self-organisation, of interactions between micro and macro levels).
The studies are carried out in close interaction with lines of research dealing with urban spaces and systems of cities. From a formal point of view, we can distinguish three types of studies, whether they concern patterns or dynamic mapping.
The first body of works deals with methodological and conceptual transfers based on the needs which emanate from other fields.
We explore theoretical concepts and innovative methods which have not yet been frequently used in geography, in order to study their heuristic impact for questions that arise from thematic fields (the origin of city inequalities, the dynamics of settlement systems, the effects of intertwined mobilities with various temporalities on the regeneration of urban spaces, forms of interurban and international differentiations, the evolution of material and immaterial flows). Moreover, we integrate the dimension of representations (in the sense of perception) which are made (mental maps for example). Particular attention is paid to the different geographical levels at stake and to forms of integration between different levels of decision, between individuals, stakeholders and territories.
A second approach rests on the dialogue between the theories of social sciences and sciences of complexity.
The goal is to shift from an approach in terms of transfer in order to bring the attention on the interactions between different theoretical families which emerge from geography, other social sciences as well as formal sciences. The way to do so is to develop new links between the three fields that structure our studies: the theoretical field (evolutionary theory of cities, theory of social justice, etc); the empirical field (especially with works on population, cities, schools, health); the field of models (Simpop models, model of school segregation, multi and inter-level statistical models linked to health, Markov chains, processes of optimum aggregation of very large-sized graphs, creation of synthetic agent populations, etc).
The third approach consists in developing this theory-model-empiric dialogue at the level of space and time databases.
Two types of studies are in progress. The first concerns the construction of scalable databases which are coherent in terms of theory and which are adapted to computer and statistic models (reflection on entities, their properties, the relationships between them, their dynamics; reflections on models which allows us to create these entities). The second deals with the treatment and representation of space and time data on a cartography with the development of adapted environments. New technologies and data masses, whether they are based on observations or simulations, lead us to renew the reflection in this domain. The issue is to combine formal developments and the developments of methodology and computer tools.
The third axis builds on a series of interdisciplinary groups and research projects:
• the Cartomouv group studies the links between practices of representation (dynamic maps) and change processes (cartographers and geomatics specialists);
• the Dyxi-Sysco2 group develops a platform with multiple points of view to compare models on school inequalities which are issued from various disciplines (with sociologists, economists and computer engineers);
• the European Research Council Project “Geodivercity” develops models which represent the dynamics of systems of cities in different parts of the world (Europe, United-States, India, China, Russia, Brazil, South Africa) (with computer engineers from the Ile-de-France Institute of Complex Systems).
• the HyperCarte group deals with the conception and implementation of environments of spatial analysis and of interactive mapping that integrate the multi-scalar dimension of spaces (with computer engineers);
• the National Research Agency Project “Harmonie-cités”;
• the RelatHealth group develops a relational and multi-scalar approach of place effects on health (with social epidemiologists);
• the National Research Agency Project “TransMonDyn” models important transitions in the evolution of systems of population at different time and space scales (with archeologists, linguists, computer engineers, economists, ecologists, philosophers);
• the MIRO2 group
• the National Research Agency Project “Geomediamapper” analyses the relationships between countries and the representations that are made based on RSS feeds of an international sample of newspapers (with computer engineers and media experts).