Classification and clustering are often confused with each other, or used interchangeably. Clustering and classification are distinguished by whether the number and type of classes are known beforehand (classification), or if they are learned from the data (clustering). The overarching goal of classification and clustering is to place observations into groups that share similar characteristics while maximizing the separation of the groups that are dissimilar to each other. Clusters are found in environmental and social applications, and classification is a common way of organizing information. Both are used in many areas of GIS including spatial cluster detection, remote sensing classification, cartography, and spatial analysis. Cartographic classification methods present a simplified way to examine some classification and clustering methods, and these will be explored in more depth with example applications.
This knowledge area embodies a variety of data driven analytics, geocomputational methods, simulation and model driven approaches designed to study complex spatial-temporal problems, develop insights into characteristics of geospatial data sets, create and test geospatial process models, and construct knowledge of the behavior of geographically-explicit and dynamic processes and their patterns.
Topics in this Knowledge Area are listed thematically below. Existing topics are in regular font and linked directly to their original entries (published in 2006; these contain only Learning Objectives). Entries that have been updated and expanded are in bold. Forthcoming, future topics are italicized.