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Heuristic Methods in Spatial Analysis

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

Many problems in spatial analysis involve the search for optimal solutions. For example, it is important to find locations for public health facilities such that the residents in an area can be best served. There are exact methods that can be used to solve these problems. An exact method exhaustively evaluates each possible solution and identifies the best one. A drawback of this type of approach is its complexity. For a large-sized problem, as measured by the number of inputs, the time used by an exact method may exceed the time frame required to solve the problem. The predicament of solving a problem exactly suggests the use of heuristic methods. Different from exact methods, heuristics generally do not guarantee that the optimal solution will be ...

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