GeoComputation 2000 HomeConference ProgrammeAlphabetical List of AuthorsPaper

The Semantics of GeoComputation

1 U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, USA
2 University of Massachusetts, USA

Key words: GeoComputation, Semantics, Trends, Future

What is GeoComputation? This question has challenged researchers since the concept was presented to the geographic community at the first International Conference on GeoComputation at the University of Leeds in 1996. Leading academics, including Helen Couclelis (1998), Paul Longley (1998), Mark Gahegan (1999), and Stan Openshaw (in press), have all defined, discussed, and/or described the nature of GeoComputation. These top-down definitions reflect each author's perspective, based on their personal backgrounds in geography and their individual abilities to place GeoComputation in the overall context of geographic and computational research.

However, we believe that the cumulative body of research as expressed in the abstracts of the papers, posters, and keynote addresses from the five GeoComputation conferences may best characterize GeoComputation, not the work or definition of any one individual. Consequently, this paper does not attempt to define GeoComputation per se, but explores the scope or nature of GeoComputation by examining the body of research presented at the four conferences between 1996 and 1999 at the University of Leeds, UK, the University of Otago, NZ, the University of Bristol, UK, and Mary Washington College, USA, as well as presentations at GeoComp 2000 at the University of Greenwich, UK. We determine "what's in" and "what's out" as well as evaluating more subtle changes in research emphasis over time. In other words, this is a bottom-up approach: we look at GeoComputation in terms of what GeoComputation researchers say they do.

Text analysis software developed by the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval at the University of Massachusetts was used for the analysis. Word frequencies and associations in the abstracts for each conference were analysed separately and then compared statistically. The results provide insight into GeoComputation by describing the range of research topics, core technologies, and concepts encompassed by GeoComputation researchers and, perhaps more important, allow us to identify research trends, past, present, and future.


Couclelis, H., 1998, GeoComputation in Context. In GeoComputation, a Primer, Longley, P.A., Brooks, S.M., McDonnell, R. and MacMillan, B. (Eds.), Chichester, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., pp 17-29.

Gehagen, M., 1999, What is GeoComputation? Transactions in GIS, 3, pp 203-206.

Longley, P.A., 1998, Foundations. In GeoComputation, a Primer, Longley, P.A., Brooks, S.M., McDonnell, R. and MacMillan, B. (Eds.), Chichester, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., pp 17-29.

Openshaw, S. & Abrahart, R.J. (Eds.), GeoComputation. London, Taylor & Francis, in press.