Two competing methodologies in procedural content generation are teleological and ontogenetic. The teleological approach creates an accurate physical model of the environment and the process that creates the thing generated, and then simply runs the simulation, and the results should emerge as they do in nature.
The ontogenetic approach observes the end results of this process and then attempts to directly reproduce those results by ad hoc algorithms. Ontogenetic approaches are more commonly used in real-time applications such as games. (See "Shattering Reality," Game Developer, August 2006.)
If you're generating a map using Perlin Noise for height, you are using an ontogenetic approach, because nothing about the geological processes which result in hills, mountains and slopes resembles the process used to create Perlin Noise, other than the fact that the output is fractal-like. The teleological equivalent would be to take a flat height field, and then distort it by mimicing the movement of plate tectonics (on a large enough scale), and then using a Rain-Drop Algorithm to mimic erosion.