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Map Algebra

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

Map algebra (also called cartographic modeling) is a set of operators, operations, and rules governing the manipulation and analysis of spatial data using the raster data model. The raster data model represents geographic objects and fields by tessellating space as cells, each of which is associated with a value indicating the identity, rank, or quantity of the phenomenon that occupies it. Map algebra treats raster layers as variables in algebra and calculates new raster layers by applying one or a sequence of operations using expressions.

Map algebra decomposes spatial analytic tasks into elementary operations that can be flexibly recombined. Elementary operations in map algebra are grouped into local, focal, and zonal categories based on the spatial scope of the operations. Local operations calculate on the ...

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