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Modifiable Areal Unit Problem

  • By: Emily A. Fogarty
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Often the area (or regional) level rather than the individual level is the target of inference in geographic and environmental science studies. The use of aggregated data sources while performing geographic (or spatially) related inquires may well lead the researcher into an encounter with the modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP). Geographic analysis requires one to not only consider geographic area—the scale—but also the resolution of the data to be analyzed. The relationships between variables will change as the scale of measurement (resolution) changes. The relative size, scale, level of detail, or depth of penetration that characterizes an object or activity relates to the MAUP. This entry provides a cursory overview of the MAUP as it relates to geographic inquiry.

The outcome of two different geographic (or ...

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