Foundational Concepts

The foundational concepts are the elementary building blocks and context setting constraints of all other entries in the BoK. The latter encompass the philosophical and mathematical support for GIScience as well as data models, while the constituent elements include, among others, notions of scale, spatial data quality, and openness. This knowledge area is also the place to look for the origins and future of GIScience.

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 expanded and revised are in bold. Forthcoming, future topics are italicized

Philosophical Basic Measures
Metaphysics and Ontology Distance, Length, and Direction
Epistemology Shape
Philosophical Perspectives Area and Region
Cognitive Proximity & Distance Decay
Perceptions and Cognition of Geographic Phenomena Adjacency and Connectivity
From Concepts to Data Resolution
Place and Landscape Geometric Primitives
The Power of Maps Spatial Autocorrelation
Learning from Experience Interrogating Geographic Information
Domains of Geographic Information Set Theory
Space Structured Query Language (SQL) and Attribute Queries
Time Spatial Queries
Relationships between Space and Time Uncertainty
Properties Error
Networks Defined Problems of Scale and Zoning
Scale and Generalization Thematic Accuracy
  Definitions within a Conceptual Model of Uncertainty
Origins Social
Public Sector Origins  Openness
Private Sector Origins  
Academic Developments of GIS&T  

 

FC-32 - Learning from experience
  • Explain how knowledge of the history of the development of enterprise GIS can aid in an implementation process
  • Evaluate case studies of past GISs to identify factors leading to success and failure
  • Discuss the evolution of isolated GIS projects to enterprise GIS
FC-01 - Metaphysics and ontology
  • Define common theories on what is “real,” such as realism, idealism, relativism, and experiential realism
  • Compare and contrast the ability of different theories to explain various situations
  • Recognize the commonalities of philosophical viewpoints and appreciate differences to enable work with diverse colleagues
  • Evaluate the influences of particular worldviews (including one’s own) on GIS practices
  • Justify the metaphysical theories with which you agree
  • Identify the ontological assumptions underlying the work of colleagues
FC-19 - Networks Defined

A network is a widely used term with different definitions and methodologies depending on the applications. In GIS, a network refers to an arrangement of elements (i.e., nodes, links) and information on their connections and interactions. There are two types of networks: physical and logical. While a physical network has tangible objects (e.g., road segments), a logical network represents logical connections among nodes and links. A network can be represented with a mathematical notion called graph theory. Different network components are utilized to describe characteristics of a network including loops, walks, paths, circuits, and parallel edges. Network data are commonly organized in a vector format with network topology, specifically connectivity among nodes and links, whereas raster data can be also utilized for a least-cost problem over continuous space. Network data is utilized in a wide range of network analyses, including the classic shortest path problem.

FC-35 - Openness

The philosophy of Openness and its use in diverse areas is attracting increasing attention from users, developers, businesses, governments, educators, and researchers around the world. The technological, socio-cultural, economic, legal, institutional, and philosophical issues related to its principles, applications, benefits, and barriers for its use are growing areas of research. The word “Open” is commonly used to denote adherence to the principles of Openness. Several fields are incorporating the use of Openness in their activities, some of them are of particular relevance to GIS&T (Geographic Information Science and Technology) such as: Open Data, Free and Open Source Software; and Open Standards for geospatial data, information, and technologies. This entry presents a definition of Openness, its importance in the area of GISc&T is introduced through a list of its benefits in the fields of Open Data, Open Source Software, and Open Standards. Then some of the barriers, myths, or inhibitors to Openness are presented using the case of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and FOSS for Geospatial Applications (FOSS4G).

FC-34 - Organizational models for coordinating GISs and/or program participants and stakeholders
  • Compare and contrast centralized, federated, and distributed models for managing information infrastructures
  • Describe the roles and relationships of GIS&T support staff
  • Exemplify how to make GIS&T relevant to top management
  • Describe different organizational models for coordinating GIS&T participants and stakeholders
  • Describe the stages of two different models of implementing a GIS within an organization
FC-04 - Perception and cognition of geographic phenomena
  • Describe the differences between real phenomena, conceptual models, and GIS data representations thereof
  • Explain the role of metaphors and image schema in our understanding of geographic phenomena and geographic tasks
  • Compare and contrast the symbolic and connectionist theories of human cognition and memory and their ability to model various cases
  • Compare and contrast theories of spatial knowledge acquisition (e.g., Marr on vision, Piaget on childhood, Golledge on wayfinding)
  • Explore the contribution of linguistics to the study of spatial cognition and the role of natural language in the conceptualization of geographic phenomena
FC-03 - Philosophical Perspectives

This entry follows in the footsteps of Anselin’s famous 1989 NCGIA working paper entitled “What is special about spatial?” (a report that is very timely again in an age when non-spatial data scientists are ignorant of the special characteristics of spatial data), where he outlines three unrelated but fundamental characteristics of spatial data. In a similar vein, I am going to discuss some philosophical perspectives that are internally unrelated to each other and could warrant individual entries in this Body of Knowledge. The first one is the notions of space and time and how they have evolved in philosophical discourse over the past three millennia. Related to these are aspects of absolute versus relative conceptions of these two fundamental constructs. The second is a brief introduction to key philosophical approaches and how they impact geospatial science and technology use today. The third is a discussion of which of the promises of the Quantitative Revolution in Geography and neighboring disciplines have been fulfilled by GIScience (and what is still missing). The fourth and final one is an introduction to the role that GIScience may play in what has recently been formalized as theory-guided data science.

FC-06 - Place and landscape
  • Explain how the concept of place encompasses more than just location
  • Evaluate the differences in how various parties think or feel differently about a place being modeled
  • Describe the elements of a sense of place or landscape that are difficult or impossible to adequately represent in GIS
  • Differentiate between space and place
  • Differentiate among elements of the meaning of a place that can or cannot be easily represented using geospatial technologies
  • Select a place or landscape with personal meaning and discuss its importance
  • Define the notions of cultural landscape and physical landscape
FC-30 - Private sector origins
  • Identify some of the key commercial activities that provided an impetus for the development of GIS&T
  • Differentiate the dominant industries using geospatial technologies during the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s
  • Describe the contributions of McHarg and other practitioners in developing geographic analysis methods later incorporated into GIS
  • Evaluate the correspondence between advances in hardware and operating system technology and changes in GIS software
  • Describe the influence of evolving computer hardware and of private sector hardware firms such as IBM on the emerging GIS software industry
  • Discuss the emergence of the GIS software industry in terms of technology evolution and markets served by firms such as ESRI, Intergraph, and ERDAS
FC-26 - Problems of Scale and Zoning

Spatial data are often encoded within a set of spatial units that exhaustively partition a region, where individual level data are aggregated, or continuous data are summarized, over a set of spatial units. Such is the case with census data aggregated to enumeration units for public dissemination. Partitioning schemes can vary by scale, where one partitioning scheme spatially nests within another, or by zoning, where two partitioning schemes have the same number of units but the unit shapes and boundaries differ. The Modifiable Areal Unit Problem (MAUP) refers to the fact the nature of spatial partitioning can affect the interpretation and results of visualization and statistical analysis. Generally, coarser scales of data aggregation tend to have stronger observed statistical associations among variables. The ecological fallacy refers to the assumption that an individual has the same attributes as the aggregate group to which it belongs. Combining spatial data with different partitioning schemes to facilitate analysis is often problematic. Areal interpolation may be used to estimate data over small areas or ecological inference may be used to infer individual behaviors from aggregate data. Researchers may also perform analyses at multiple scales as a point of comparison.

Pages