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Research Area (3)

Spatial Simulation

Enriching GIScience with the temporal dimension.

Digital models of our world commonly prioritise either the spatial or the temporal dimension as their primary frame of reference. The research area “Spatial Simulation” aims to advance full integration of space and time in the representation of complex systems, by means of simulation modelling, spatio-temporal analysis and dynamic geo-visualisation.  

The core principle of spatial analysis that nearer things are more related than distant things (Tobler 1970) is equally true for the temporal domain: time matters! Together, the two dimensions of space and time build the spatio-temporal context of our environment. Although GIScience primarily takes a spatial perspective, there is a trend towards the incorporation of time. Simulation modelling on the other side has a long tradition in representing the temporal dynamics of systems, largely under the assumption of homogeneous space. The Theory of Complex (Adaptive) Systems has fuelled development of bottom-up modelling approaches such as cellular automata and agent-based models, in which spatial heterogeneity is hard-wired into the model structure. In the synthesis of GIScience and Complexity Theory, spatial simulation models thus conceptualise systems from a truly spatio-temporal perspective. This disaggregated view of dynamic processes allows for establishing causal links between spatio-temporal patterns and their underlying processes. We study dynamic spatial patterns in a range of different domains, including ecology, transport, hydrology and image analysis.


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