From the questioning of modelling to the hybridisation of methods: the case of engineering sciences at the École des Ponts in France

In this article, published in the journal Flux no. 133 on the theme “Numerics and urban engineering,” geographer Marion Maisonobe and sociologist Gilles Jeannot analyze developments in artificial intelligence in the engineering sciences and their relationship with more traditional modeling practices, focussing on the case of research at the École nationale des ponts et chaussées.

A bibliometric analysis shows that, after 2015, machine learning methods start to be increasingly used in this research institute, at a comparable rate to that observed in French research as a whole. A wave of interviews with scientists at the École des ponts, at the start of this growth phase, highlights forms of hybridisation between machine learning methods and traditional modelling methods.

Marion Maisonobe
Marion is a geographer at CNRS, in France. She is curious about networks of places and especially the way social ties and movements connect places together at various scales in a more or less lasting way. Scientific networks have interesting characteristics as they spread over many countries and cities and can last over generations of scientists. She contributes to the development of the NETSCITY web application, which allows mapping science at the global scale.

MAISONOBE Marion, JEANNOT Gilles, “The emergence of artificial intelligence in engineering sciences for the territory: from the questioning of modelling to the hybridisation of methods. The case of the École des ponts”, Flux, 2023/3 (No 133), p. 24-39. DOI: 10.3917/flux1.133.0024.

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Frédérique Bordignon, Marion Maisonobe; Researchers and their data: A study based on the use of the word data in scholarly articles. Quantitative Science Studies 2022; 3 (4): 1156–1178.