HGIS Bibliography

Foody, G.M. “Map Comparison in GIS.” Progress in Physical Geography 31 (2007): 439-445.

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  1. G.M. Foody discusses one of the most common functions of GIS: map comparison. Map comparison has gained particular prominence internationally in recent years due to global land-cover comparison studies. Foody writes that there are four common uses for GIS map comparison. The first use is to determine the degree of similarity between two maps of the same geographic region. The second use is to compare change through time. The third use is to compare similarities in landscape representation. Last, Foody notes that map comparison is often a pivotal ingredient in model comparison exercises. Although the act of comparing maps seems to be rather straightforward, Foody argues that the process is actually quite complicated. The spatial and analytical unit used for map comparison is typically the pixel, although pixel blocks, land parcels, and other units are also used. Problems in map comparison typically occur due to the fact that both map making and map analysis vary in technique between different regions. For example, the legends of maps are rarely the same, particularly when comparing maps made in different research communities. Additionally, map analysts often place varying weights on the map differences that they are able to identify, leading to differing conclusions. Like any field of study, the scale of analysis changes the result of the investigation. Foody concludes that map comparison studies are worthwhile, but that these inherent ambiguities must also be acknowledged.

    Jessica DeWitt
    October 2012

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