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Comparison of thematic maps using symbolic entropy

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Comparison of thematic maps is an important task in a number of disciplines. Map comparison has traditionally been conducted using cell-by-cell agreement indicators. More recently, other methods have been proposed that take into account not only spatially coincident cells in two maps, but also their surroundings or the spatial structure of their differences. The objective of this article is to propose a framework for map comparison that considers (1) the patterns of spatial association in two maps, in other words, the map elements in their surroundings; (2) the equivalence of those patterns; and (3) the independence of patterns between maps. Two new statistics for the spatial analysis of qualitative data are introduced that are based on the symbolic entropy of the maps. As well, all inferential elements to conduct hypothesis testing are developed. The framework is illustrated using real and simulated maps.

Keywords: hypothesis testing; map comparison; qualitative variables; spatial association; symbolic entropy; thematic maps

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Métodos Cuantitativos e Informáticos,Facultad de C.C. de la Empresa, Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena, Cartagena, Spain 2: Centre for Spatial Analysis, School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton,ON, Canada

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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