Open Ph.D. position

Posting date: July 2016

Landform classification on a digital terrain model


A landform, such as a mountain or a canyon, is a region easily characterised by its shape and salient features. However, its definition is often vague and depends on the application domain and level of expertise of the users. Hence, even if the definition is clear for most people, its translation into an implementable logical model is difficult. Numerical methods in terrain classification often proceed by segmenting the terrain in homogeneous regions and are not adapted to salient feature and fuzzy object detection.

In the last few years, works related to spatial cognition have focused on structuring landform definitions around salient features perceived by users in order to provide formal attributes describing landforms. However, no formal framework, starting from user’s knowledge representation down to their implementation in an information system, has been developed, which would allow for a systematic modelling of landforms.


The objective of the project in which the PhD thesis is encompassed is to develop and apply such a formal framework. The student will have to conceive and implement a processing chain on a limited case study. That will include the design of a conceptual model where landforms are characterised by their salient features and the definition of the logical model allowing for the classification of these features on a digital terrain model. The data structure considered for this is the surface network which provides a topological structure summarising the terrain morphological characteristics.

Candidate profile

This project pertains to geographical information science but also addresses other disciplines (computer science, geometrical modelling). It involves several themes such as first of all digital terrain modelling but also knowledge representation and expert systems. Hence, the candidate shall ideally have a background in one of these disciplines: geomatics engineering, computer science, applied mathematics. S/he shall be able to implement a prototype and validate the conceptual model.


The PhD position is supported by a scholarship of 19000$ per year over three years and founded by a NSERC Discovery grant. The candidate will work within the Department of geomatics sciences and the Centre for research in geomatics at Université Laval.

Expected starting date

September 2016 or January 2017

How to apply

Please send the following documents to:
1. CV
2. Most recent transcript
3. A motivation letter explaining your interests in the project, supported by your background and expertise.