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CV-05 - Statistical Mapping (Enumeration, Normalization, Classification)

Proper communication of spatial distributions, trends, and patterns in data is an important component of a cartographers work. Geospatial data is often large and complex, and due to inherent limitations of size, scalability, and sensitivity, cartographers are often required to work with data that is abstracted, aggregated, or simplified from its original form. Working with data in this manner serves to clarify cartographic messages, expedite design decisions, and assist in developing narratives, but it also introduces a degree of abstraction and subjectivity in the map that can make it easy to infer false messages from the data and ultimately can mislead map readers. This entry introduces the core topics of statistical mapping around cartography. First, we define enumeration and the aggregation of data to units of enumeration. Next, we introduce the importance of data normalization (or standardization) to more truthfully communicate cartographically and, lastly, discuss common methods of data classification and how cartographers bin data into groups that simplify communication.

AM-09 - Classification and Clustering

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.

FC-02 - Epistemology

Epistemology is the lens through which we view reality. Different epistemologies interpret the earth and patterns on its surface differently. In effect, epistemology is a belief system about the nature of reality that, in turn, structures our interpretation of the world. Common epistemologies in GIScience include (but are not limited by) positivism and realism. However, many researchers are in effect pragmatists in that they choose the filter that best supports their work and a priori hypotheses. Different epistemologies – or ways of knowing and studying geography – result in different ontologies or classification systems. By understanding the role of epistemology, we can better understand different ways of representing the same phenomena.