by

A.Stewart Fotheringham

**Introduction**

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