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PD-28 - Visual Programming for GIS Applications

Visual programming languages (VPLs) in GIS applications are used to design the automatic processing of spatial data in an easy visual form. The resulted visual workflow is useful when the same processing steps need to be repeated on different spatial data (e.g. other areas, another period). In the case of visual programming languages, simple graphical symbols represent spatial operations implemented in GIS software (tools, geoalgorithms). Users can create a sequence of operation in a simple visual form, like a chain of graphical symbols. Visual programs can be stored and reused. The graphical form is useful to non-programmers who are not familiar with a textual programming language, as is the case with many professionals such as urban planners, facility managers, ecologists and other users of GIS. VPLs are implemented not only in GIS applications but also in remote sensing (RS) applications. Sometimes both types of applications are bundled together in one geospatial application that offers geoalgorithms in a shared VPL environment. Visual programming languages are an integral part of software engineering (SE). Data flow and workflow diagrams are one of the oldest graphical representations in informatics.

CP-23 - Google Earth Engine

Google Earth Engine (GEE) is a cloud-based platform for planetary scale geospatial data analysis and communication.  By placing more than 17 petabytes of earth science data and the tools needed to access, filter, perform, and export analyses in the same easy to use application, users are able to explore and scale up analyses in both space and time without any of the hassles traditionally encountered with big data analysis.  Constant development and refinement have propelled GEE into one of the most advanced and accessible cloud-based geospatial analysis platforms available, and the near real time data ingestion and interface flexibility means users can go from observation to presentation in a single window.

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-27 - Thematic Accuracy Assessment

Geographic Information System (GIS) applications often involve various analytical techniques and geographic data to produce thematic maps for gaining a better understanding of geospatial situations to support spatial decisions. Accuracy assessment of a thematic map is necessary for evaluating the quality of the research results and ensuring appropriate use of the geographic data. Thematic accuracy deals with evaluating the accuracy of the attributes or labels of mapped features by comparing them to a reference that is assumed to be true. The fundamental practice presents the remote sensing approach to thematic accuracy assessment as a good guidance. For instance, the accuracy of a remote sensing image can be represented as an error matrix when the map and reference classification are conducted based on categories. This entry introduces basic concepts and techniques used in conducting thematic accuracy with an emphasis on land cover classification based on remote sensing images. The entry first introduces concepts of spatial uncertainty and spatial data quality standards and further gives an example of how spatial data quality affects thematic accuracy. Additionally, the entry illustrates the techniques that can be used to access thematic accuracy as well as using spatial autocorrelation in thematic accuracy sampling design.

PD-33 - GDAL/OGR and Geospatial Data IO Libraries

Manipulating (e.g., reading, writing, and processing) geospatial data, the first step in geospatial analysis tasks, is a complicated step, especially given the diverse types and formats of geospatial data combined with diverse spatial reference systems. Geospatial data Input/Output (IO) libraries help facilitate this step by handling some technical details of the IO process. GDAL/OGR is the most widely-used, broadly-supported, and constantly-updated free library among existing geospatial data IO libraries. GDAL/OGR provides a single raster abstract data model and a single vector abstract data model for processing and analyzing raster and vector geospatial data, respectively, and it supports most, if not all, commonly-used geospatial data formats. GDAL/OGR can also perform both cartographic projections on large scales and coordinate transformation for most of the spatial reference systems used in practice. This entry provides an overview of GDAL/OGR, including why we need such a geospatial data IO library and how it can be applied to various formats of geospatial data to support geospatial analysis tasks. Alternative geospatial data IO libraries are also introduced briefly. Future directions of development for GDAL/OGR and other geospatial data IO libraries in the age of big data and cloud computing are discussed as an epilogue to this entry.

AM-78 - Genetic Algorithms and Evolutionary Computing

Genetic algorithms (GAs) are a family of search methods that have been shown to be effective in finding optimal or near-optimal solutions to a wide range of optimization problems. A GA maintains a population of solutions to the problem being solved and uses crossover, mutation, and selection operations to iteratively modify them. As the population evolves across generations, better solutions are created and inferior ones are selectively discarded. GAs usually run for a fixed number of iterations (generations) or until further improvements do not obtain. This contribution discusses the fundamental principles of genetic algorithms and uses Python code to illustrate how GAs can be developed for both numerical and spatial optimization problems. Computational experiments are used to demonstrate the effectiveness of GAs and to illustrate some nuances in GA design.

AM-94 - Machine Learning Approaches

Machine learning approaches are increasingly used across numerous applications in order to learn from data and generate new knowledge discoveries, advance scientific studies and support automated decision making. In this knowledge entry, the fundamentals of Machine Learning (ML) are introduced, focusing on how feature spaces, models and algorithms are being developed and applied in geospatial studies. An example of a ML workflow for supervised/unsupervised learning is also introduced. The main challenges in ML approaches and our vision for future work are discussed at the end.

AM-08 - Kernels and Density Estimation

Kernel density estimation is an important nonparametric technique to estimate density from point-based or line-based data. It has been widely used for various purposes, such as point or line data smoothing, risk mapping, and hot spot detection. It applies a kernel function on each observation (point or line) and spreads the observation over the kernel window. The kernel density estimate at a location will be the sum of the fractions of all observations at that location. In a GIS environment, kernel density estimation usually results in a density surface where each cell is rendered based on the kernel density estimated at the cell center. The result of kernel density estimation could vary substantially depending on the choice of kernel function or kernel bandwidth, with the latter having a greater impact. When applying a fixed kernel bandwidth over all of the observations, undersmoothing of density may occur in areas with only sparse observation while oversmoothing may be found in other areas. To solve this issue, adaptive or variable bandwidth approaches have been suggested.

PD-31 - PySAL and Spatial Statistics Libraries

As spatial statistics are essential to the geographical inquiry, accessible and flexible software offering relevant functionalities is highly desired. Python Spatial Analysis Library (PySAL) represents an endeavor towards this end. It is an open-source python library and ecosystem hosting a wide array of spatial statistical and visualization methods. Since its first public release in 2010, PySAL has been applied to address various research questions, used as teaching materials for pedagogical purposes in regular classes and conference workshops serving a wide audience, and integrated into general GIS software such as ArcGIS and QGIS. This entry first gives an overview of the history and new development with PySAL. This is followed by a discussion of PySAL’s new hierarchical structure, and two different modes of accessing PySAL’s functionalities to perform various spatial statistical tasks, including exploratory spatial data analysis, spatial regression, and geovisualization. Next, a discussion is provided on how to find and utilize useful materials for studying and using spatial statistical functions from PySAL and how to get involved with the PySAL community as a user and prospective developer. The entry ends with a brief discussion of future development with PySAL.

CP-26 - eScience, the Evolution of Science

Science—and research more broadly—face many challenges as its practitioners struggle to accommodate new challenges around reproducibility and openness.  The current practice of science limits access to knowledge, information and infrastructure, which in turn leads to inefficiencies, frustrations and a lack of rigor.  Many useful research outcomes are never used because they are too difficult to find, or to access, or to understand.

New computational methods and infrastructure provide opportunities to reconceptualize how science is conducted, how it is shared, how it is evaluated and how it is reused.  And new data sources changed what can be known, and how well, and how frequently.  This article describes some of the major themes of eScience/eResearch aimed at improving the process of doing science.