Hedda R. Schmidtke

GEOG 607: Seminar: Spatial Information Theory

Spatial Information Theory is the study of theoretical aspects of space and spatial information. Within its purview fall advances in the cognitive foundations, artificial intelligence approaches, and geographic applications of these. The main venue for this research, the COSIT conference series, 2019 in its 25th anniversary year, aims to bring together researchers from different disciplines for an intensive scientific exchange. This aim is facilitated by the presentation and discussion of a restricted number of papers and posters — the most innovative and significant recent contributions — rather than papers covering all advances in the field. The course will introduce main topics of spatial information theory, including both the historical milestones and the most recent results. Following the publication style in computer science, the COSIT proceedings contain full papers, including some of the most cited publications in GIScience, which we will read. The course will be run in project-seminar style combining literature study with an option for students to enrich or develop own research projects. Students can work in groups.

We will roughly cover the following topics:

  • Spatial Language
  • Qualitative Reasoning
  • Navigation and Wayfinding
  • Spatial Cognition
  • Philosophical Perspectives


All readings will come from the proceedings of the conference series which are published as  volumes of the LNCS series and all accessible from campus (or via VPN) through the Springer Link portal. After an introduction by the instructor to key topics and specific fundamental concepts, we will read selected papers from the below list (which can be widened depending on student interests). Articles are listed below by year for reasons of retrieval (the ordering, in which we will read articles will be as indicated above). To find an article click on the year and navigate through the table of contents using the page numbers.


Geospatial Ontology and Ontologies
True Grid
Barry Smith
Pages 14-27
A Taxonomy of Granular Partitions
Thomas Bittner, Barry Smith
Pages 28-43
A Geometric Theory of Vague Boundaries Based on Supervaluation
Lars Kulik
Pages 44-59

How Spoken Language and Signed Language Structure Space Differently
Leonard Talmy
Pages 247-262

Qualitative Spatio-Temporal Reasoning
The House Is North of the River: Relative Localization of Extended Objects
Hedda R. Schmidtke
Pages 415-430

Objects and Fields
A Formal Theory of Objects and Fields
Antony Galton
Pages 458-473


Reasoning about Regions
A Geometry for Places: Representing Extension and Extended Objects
Hedda R. Schmidtke
Pages 221-238

Landmarks and Wayfinding
Route Adaptive Selection of Salient Features
Stephan Winter
Pages 349-361


Spatial Knowledge
Assigning Footprints to Dot Sets: An Analytical Survey
Maximillian Dupenois, Antony Galton
Pages 227-244
To Be and Not To Be: 3-Valued Relations on Graphs
John G. Stell
Pages 263-279

Scene and Visibility Modeling
A Qualitative Approach to Localization and Navigation Based on Visibility Information
Paolo Fogliaroni, Jan Oliver Wallgrün, Eliseo Clementini, Francesco Tarquini, Diedrich Wolter
Pages 312-329

Spatial Modeling
The Abduction of Geographic Information Science: Transporting Spatial Reasoning to the Realm of Purpose and Design
Helen Couclelis
Pages 342-356
An Algebraic Approach to Image Schemas for Geographic Space
Lisa Walton, Michael Worboys
Pages 357-370
Spatio-terminological Inference for the Design of Ambient Environments
Mehul Bhatt, Frank Dylla, Joana Hois
Pages 371-391

Events and Processes
Composing Models of Geographic Physical Processes
Barbara Hofer, Andrew U. Frank
Pages 421-435

Route Planning
Decentralized Time Geography for Ad-Hoc Collaborative Planning
Martin Raubal, Stephan Winter, Christopher Dorr
Pages 436-452
Adaptable Path Planning in Regionalized Environments
Kai-Florian Richter
Pages 453-470


Maps and Navigation
The Effect of Activity on Relevance and Granularity for Navigation
Stephen C. Hirtle, Sabine Timpf, Thora Tenbrink
Pages 73-89

Spatial Change
From Video to RCC8: Exploiting a Distance Based Semantics to Stabilise the Interpretation of Mereotopological Relations
Muralikrishna Sridhar, Anthony G. Cohn, David C. Hogg
Pages 110-125
Decentralized Reasoning about Gradual Changes of Topological Relationships between Continuously Evolving Regions
Lin-Jie Guan, Matt Duckham
Pages 126-147
Spatio-temporal Evolution as Bigraph Dynamics
John Stell, Géraldine Del Mondo, Remy Thibaud, Christophe Claramunt

Spatial Reasoning
On Optimal Arrangements of Binary Sensors
Parvin Asadzadeh, Lars Kulik, Egemen Tanin, Anthony Wirth
Pages 168-187
A Hybrid Geometric-Qualitative Spatial Reasoning System and Its Application in GIS
Giorgio De Felice, Paolo Fogliaroni, Jan Oliver Wallgrün
Pages 188-209
CLP(QS): A Declarative Spatial Reasoning Framework
Mehul Bhatt, Jae Hee Lee, Carl Schultz
Pages 210-230


Spatial Language and Computation
From Descriptions to Depictions: A Conceptual Framework
Maria Vasardani, Sabine Timpf, Stephan Winter, Martin Tomko
Pages 299-319
Reading Geography between the Lines: Extracting Local Place Knowledge from Text
Clare Davies
Pages 320-337
Modeling Spatial Knowledge from Verbal Descriptions
Lamia Belouaer, David Brosset, Christophe Claramunt
Pages 338-357

Spatial Reasoning and Representation
RCC and the Theory of Simple Regions in ℝ2
Stefano Borgo
Pages 457-474
The Logic of NEAR and FAR
Heshan Du, Natasha Alechina, Kristin Stock, Michael Jackson
Pages 475-494
The Topology of Spatial Scenes in ℝ2
Joshua A. Lewis, Matthew P. Dube, Max J. Egenhofer
Pages 495-515
Algebraic Properties of Qualitative Spatio-temporal Calculi
Frank Dylla, Till Mossakowski, Thomas Schneider, Diedrich Wolter
Pages 516-536


Formalizing and Modeling Space-Time
Outline of a Formal Theory of Processes and Events, and Why GIScience Needs One
Antony Galton
Pages 3-22
Extracting Causal Rules from Spatio-Temporal Data
Antony Galton, Matt Duckham, Alan Both
Pages 23-43
Modelling Spatial Structures
Franz-Benjamin Mocnik, Andrew U. Frank
Pages 44-64
Strong Spatial Cognition
Christian Freksa
Pages 65-86

Qualitative Spatio-Temporal Reasoning and Representation
A Coq-Based Axiomatization of Tarski’s Mereogeometry
Richard Dapoigny, Patrick Barlatier
Pages 108-129
Shape Similarity Based on the Qualitative Spatial Reasoning Calculus eOPRAm
Christopher H. Dorr, Longin Jan Latecki, Reinhard Moratz
Pages 130-150

Navigation by Humans and Machines
Defensive Wayfinding: Incongruent Information in Route Following
Martin Tomko, Kai-Florian Richter
Pages 426-446
A Wayfinding Grammar Based on Reference System Transformations
Peter Kiefer, Simon Scheider, Ioannis Giannopoulos, Paul Weiser
Pages 447-467


How Subdimensions of Salience Influence Each Other. Comparing Models Based on Empirical Data
Markus Kattenbeck
Evidence-Based Parametric Design: Computationally Generated Spatial Morphologies Satisfying Behavioural-Based Design Constraints
Vasiliki Kondyli, Carl Schultz, Mehul Bhatt

Expected Outcomes

By completing the course students

  • Understand the historical background and conceptual framework of spatial information theory,
  • Are aware of the state of the art and current research trends,
  • Are able to categorize approaches and apply a subset,
  • Have potentially completed key steps of a small-scale group research project in the area.
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