Monthly Archives: November 2010

GeoComputation analysis and modern spatial data

A.Stewart Fotheringham

Computation is a term which can take one of two possible meanings. In its
broader sense, it refers to the use of a computer and therefore any type of
analysis, be it quantitative or otherwise, could be described as ‘computational’ if
it were undertaken on a computer. In its narrower and perhaps more usual sense,
computation refers to the act of counting, calculating, reckoning and estimating–
all terms which invoke quantitative analysis. This chapter will therefore restrict
itself to this latter definition and uses the term GeoComputation (GC) to refer to
the quantitative analysis of spatial data which is aided by a computer. Even more
narrowly, I shall use the term GC to refer to quantitative spatial analysis in
which the computer plays a pivotal role. This definition is still sufficiently
vague though that fairly routine analyses of spatial data with standard statistical
packages (for instance, running a regression programme in SAS) could be
incorporated within it and I shall define such analyses where the computer is
essentially a faster slide rule or abacus as weak GC. I will try to demonstrate in
the examples below some of the ways in which spatial analysis is being
extended through the use of computers well beyond that which standard
statistical packages allow. What I define as strong GC analysis is where the use
of the computer drives the form of analysis undertaken rather than being a
convenient vehicle for the application of techniques developed independently of
computers. Strong GC techniques are, therefore, those which have been
developed with the computer in mind and which explicitly take advantage of
large amounts of computer power. read more

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