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FC-37 - Spatial Autocorrelation

The scientific term spatial autocorrelation describes Tobler’s first law of geography: everything is related to everything else, but nearby things are more related than distant things. Spatial autocorrelation has a:

  • past characterized by scientists’ non-verbal awareness of it, followed by its formalization;
  • present typified by its dissemination across numerous disciplines, its explication, its visualization, and its extension to non-normal data; and
  • an anticipated future in which it becomes a standard in data analytic computer software packages, as well as a routinely considered feature of space-time data and in spatial optimization practice.

Positive spatial autocorrelation constitutes the focal point of its past and present; one expectation is that negative spatial autocorrelation will become a focal point of its future.

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.

FC-19 - Networks

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-09 - Relationships Between Space and Time

Relationships between space and time evoke fundamental questions in the sciences and humanities. Many disciplines, including GIScience, consider that space and time extend in separate dimensions, are interchangeable, and form co-equal parts of a larger thing called space-time.  Our perception of how time operates in relation to space or vice verso influences how we represent space, time, and their relationships in GIS. The chosen representation, furthermore, predisposes what questions we can ask and what approaches we can take for analysis and modeling. There are many ways to think about space, time, and their relationships in GIScience. This article synthesizes five broad categories: (1) Time is independent of space but relates to space by movement and change; (2) Time collaborates with space to probe relationships, explanations, and predictions; (3) Time is spatially constructed and constrained; (4) Time and space are mutually inferable; and (5) Time and space are integrated and co-equal in the formation of flows, events, and processes. Concepts, constructs, or law-like statements arise in each of the categories as examples of how space, time, and their relationships help frame scientific inquiries in GIScience and beyond.

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-29 - Public and Private Sector Origins
  • Identify some of the key federal agencies and programs that provided the impetus for the development of GIS&T
  • Explain how the federalization of land management in Canada led to the development of the Canadian Geographic Information System in the 1960s
  • Discuss the role of the U.S. Census Bureau in contributing to the development of the U.S. geospatial industry
  • Discuss the role of the U.S. Geological Survey in contributing to the development of the U.S. geospatial industry
  • Describe the mechanical and computerized technologies used by civilian and military mapping agencies between World War II and the advent of GIS
  • Trace the history of the relationship between the intelligence community and the geospatial industry
  • Compare and contrast the initiatives of various countries to move their national mapping activities to geospatial data
  • Describe the role of NASA and the Landsat program in promoting development of digital image processing and raster GIS systems
  • 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-07 - Space
  • Differentiate between absolute and relative descriptions of location
  • Define the four basic dimensions or shapes used to describe spatial objects (i.e., points, lines, regions, volumes)
  • Discuss the contributions that different perspectives on the nature of space bring to an understanding of geographic phenomenon
  • Justify the discrepancies between the nature of locations in the real world and representations thereof (e.g., towns as points)
  • Select appropriate spatial metaphors and models of phenomena to be represented in GIS
  • Develop methods for representing non-cartesian models of space in GIS
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the use of cartesian/metric space as a basis for GIS and related technologies
  • Differentiate between common-sense, Cartesian/metric, relational, relativistic, phenomenological, social constructivist, and other theories of the nature of space
FC-36 - Events and Processes
  • Compare and contrast the concepts of continuants (entities) and occurrents (events)
  • Describe the “actor” role that entities and fields play in events and processes
  • Discuss the difficulty of integrating process models into GIS software based on the entity and field views, and methods used to do so
  • Apply or develop formal systems for describing continuous spatio-temporal processes
  • Evaluate the assertion that “events and processes are the same thing, but viewed at different temporal scales”
  • Describe particular events or processes in terms of identity, categories, attributes, and locations
  • Compare and contrast the concepts of event and process
FC-25 - Error
  • Compare and contrast how systematic errors and random errors affect measurement of distance
  • Describe the causes of at least five different types of errors (e.g., positional, attribute, temporal, logical inconsistency, and incompleteness)
FC-16 - Area and Region
  • List reasons why the area of a polygon calculated in a GIS might not be the same as the real world object it describes
  • Demonstrate how the area of a region calculated from a raster data set will vary by resolution and orientation
  • Outline an algorithm to find the area of a polygon using the coordinates of its vertices
  • Explain how variations in the calculation of area may have real world implications, such as calculating density
  • Delineate regions using properties, spatial relationships, and geospatial technologies
  • Exemplify regions found at different scales
  • Explain the relationship between regions and categories
  • Identify the kinds of phenomena commonly found at the boundaries of regions
  • Explain why general-purpose regions rarely exist
  • Differentiate among different types of regions, including functional, cultural, physical, administrative, and others
  • Compare and contrast the opportunities and pitfalls of using regions to aggregate geographic information (e.g., census data)
  • Use established analysis methods that are based on the concept of region (e.g., landscape ecology)
  • Explain the nature of the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem (MAUP)