Ht-Index for Quantifying the Fractal or Scaling Structure of Geographic Features

Bin Jiang, Junjun Yin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Although geographic features, such as mountains and coastlines, are fractal, some studies have claimed that the fractal property is not universal. This claim, which is dubious, is mainly attributed to the strict definition of fractal dimension as a measure or index for characterizing the complexity of fractals. In this article, we propose an alternative, ht-index, to quantify the fractal or scaling structure of geographic features. A geographic feature has ht-index (h) if the pattern of far more small things than large ones recurs (h - 1) times at different scales. The higher the ht-index, the more complex the geographic feature. We conduct three case studies to illustrate how the computed ht-indexes capture the complexity of different geographic features. We further discuss how ht-index is complementary to fractal dimension and elaborate on a dynamic view behind ht-index that enables better understanding of geographic forms and processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)530-540
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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