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A method for discovery and analysis of temporal patterns in complex event data

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Pattern analysis techniques currently common within geography tend to focus either on characterizing patterns of spatial and/or temporal recurrence of a single event type (e.g., incidence of flu cases) or on comparing sequences of a limited number of event types where relationships between events are already represented in the data (e.g., movement patterns). The availability of large amounts of multivariate spatiotemporal data, however, requires new methods for pattern analysis. Here, we present a technique for finding associations among many different event types where the associations among these varying event types are not explicitly represented in the data or known in advance. This pattern discovery method, known as T-pattern analysis, was first developed within the field of psychology for the purpose of finding patterns in personal interactions. We have adapted and extended the T-pattern method to take the unique characteristics of geographic data into account and implemented it within a geovisualization toolkit for an integrated computational-geovisual environment we call STempo. To demonstrate how T-pattern analysis can be employed in geographic research for discovering patterns in complex spatiotemporal data, we describe a case study featuring events from news reports about Yemen during the Arab Spring of 2011–2012. Using supplementary data from the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone, we briefly summarize and reference a separate validation study, then evaluate the scalability of the T-pattern approach. We conclude with ideas for further extensions of the T-pattern technique to increase its utility for spatiotemporal analysis.
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Keywords: geocomputation; geovisualization; pattern discovery; temporal analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 16802, USA

Publication date: September 2, 2015

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