Monday, January 26, 2015

Validity and Usefulness of Laws in GIS

Even to the trained eye, it is sometimes difficult to spot the obvious.  This was the relationship that existed in the case of Tobler’s First Law (TFL) and the art of Geographic Information System (GIS).
According to ESRI, TFL states that, "Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things."  Meanwhile GIS is the study of the surface of the Earth.  The science of GIS is that it sees the way the world looks, instead of how it works.
The facts specified by examining the information provided by a GIS program can be interpreted to establish any correlation or pattern in an environment.   GIS can also be seen as a tool to create new theories and test them in simulated models and computer algorithms.
The data of the environment, as represented in a GIS program, requires people to recognize and note the smallest of details on the satellite map.  As a result, GIS and TFL have a strong correlated relationship.  GIS is used to monitor all the variables associated within TFL.  In retrospect, the connection between Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Tobler’s First Law (TFL) may seem obvious, but so was the Law of Gravity when it was first presented as the author mentioned.

Goodchild, M. F. (2004). The validity and usefulness of laws in geographic information science and geography. Annals of the Association of American Geographers94(2), 300-303.

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