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Analytical Operations in GIS

  • By: Jochen Albrecht
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Geographic information systems (GIS) have grown to be big and somewhat unwieldy software packages with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of functions. The majority of these are, however, devoted to facilitating data input/output and general data management. Only a small fraction is devoted to what arguably distinguishes a GIS from other software packages, the set of analytical operations. A practical definition of “analytic” in the context of this entry is an operation that fully supports the “I” in GIS. In other words, an analytical GIS operation creates new information beyond what has explicitly been stored in the database.

Based on this definition, a database query is not an analytical GIS operation because it merely retrieves what has been stored before, though possibly in a different organizational structure. The ...

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