In the same manner as distance, direction plays an equally important role in GIS. This article first summarizes different ways of measuring direction, either quantitatively or qualitatively. Formulas and examples are provided. In the following discussion, fundamental differences between distance and direction in describing spatial relations is examined; properties of angles are emphasized in the context of GIS; and the classification of both cardinal and projective direction is illustrated. With a focus on quantitative operations, various directional operations are categorized and elaborated based on factors such as the underlying data model (vector or raster) and whether direction effect is explicitly or implicitly embedded in the data.
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