Human Factors Lab members Elaine and Rui receive awards.

Two members of the Human Factors Lab received recognition of their research efforts at the annual Graduate Poster Exhibition hosted by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Rui Li (Ph.D., '11) and Elaine Guidero (M.S. student) received Honorable Mention and Third Place, respectively. Both awardees received cash prizes for their efforts. Rui Li presented his recent work on geographic event conceptualization, a collaboration with Alex Klippel and Jinlong Yang in the NSF-funded project "Contextual influences on the category construction of geographic-scale movement patterns". Elaine Guidero presented an outreach project, a large map created as an exhibit for the local children's science museum, the Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania.


Paper accepted for the Las Navas Book.

Title: The Egenhofer-Cohn Hypothesis—or, Topological Relativity?

Authors: Alexander Klippel, Rui Li, Jinlong Yang, Frank Hardisty, Sen Xu.


Paper accepted at the Journal of Spatial Information Science, JOSIS.

Title: GeoCAM: A geovisual analytics workspace to contextualize and interpret statements about movement

Authors: Anuj Jaiswal, Scott Pezanowski, Prasenjit Mitra, Xiao Zhang, Sen Xu, Ian Turton, Alexander Klippel, and Alan M. MacEachren

Abstract. This article focuses on integrating computational and visual methods to support analysts to identify, extract, map, and relate linguistic accounts of movement. We address two objectives: (1) build the conceptual/ theoretical/ empirical framework needed to represent and interpret geographic accounts of movement found in text; and (2) design and implement a geovisual analytics workspace for document analysis. We have built a set of geo-enabled, computational methods to identify documents containing movement statements and a visual analytics environment that uses natural language processing methods iteratively with geographic database support to extract, interpret, and map geographic movement references in context. Additionally, analysts can provide feedback to improve computational results. To demonstrate the value of this integrative approach, we have realized a proof-of-concept implementation focussing on identifying and processing documents that contain human-generated route directions. We provide an overview of the approach and then outline the methods implemented to: categorize documents based on mode of transportation; extract origins, destinations, and route parts from the documents; georeference geographic features using context; and visually represent the identified movement patterns in a map based working environment. Using our visual analytic interface, an analyst can explore the results, provide feedback to improve those results, pose queries against a database of route directions, and interactively represent the route on a map.


Paper accepted at the Annals of the Association of American Geographers.

Title: Spatial Information Theory Meets Spatial Thinking - Is Topology the Rosetta Stone of Spatial Cognition?

Author: Alexander Klippel

Abstract. Topology is the most commonly used spatial construct to bridge the gap between formal spatial information theory and systems on the one side and (human) spatial cognition and thinking on the other. To this end, we find topological calculi in virtually all research areas pertinent to spatial information science such as ontological modeling, geographic information retrieval, image analysis and classification. Manifold experiments have been conducted to assess the cognitive adequacy of topological calculi with varying results. Our contribution here is unique for two reasons: on the one hand, we are addressing, behaviorally, the role of topology in the crucial area of spatio-temporal information; on the other hand, we are evaluating the role of topology across different semantic domains. We report five experiments that were conducted in the framework we developed (Anonymous 2), which combine critical constructs from spatial information theory and cognitive science. Topologically equivalent movement patterns were specified across five domains using paths through a conceptual neighborhood graph. This approach allows us to disentangle the role of topology from the influence of semantic context. The results show that topology plays an important yet not semantic-independent role in characterizing the cognitive conceptualization of geographic events.


Paper accepted at the Workshop on Computational Models for Spatial Language Interpretation and Generation..

Title: Spatial Event Language across Geographic Domains

Authors: Alexander Klippel, Sen Xu, Jinlong Yang, Rui Li

Abstract. We present first results of an analysis of a corpus of linguistic descriptions that were collected in controlled experiments. This corpus and its analysis add to the body of knowledge on formal models for spatial language, language interpretation and generation. The experiments are grounded in qualitative formalisms (RCC and Intersection Models, IM) that have a long standing tradition as means to bridge formal and linguistic descriptions of space and spatial relations. Our experiments address dynamically changing spatial relations (movement patterns/geographic events). By keeping the formal spatial characterizations identical across experiments but changing the semantics (that is, we used movement patterns across seven different geographic domains such as a hurricane in relation to a peninsula, plus two geometric figure domains) we contribute to disentangling spatial and domain specific aspects of spatial (event) language. We briefly discuss here two aspects: First, we hand examine the corpus by selecting participants that show the same conceptual behavior as identified through RCC/IM; second, we analyze the domain specific sub-corpora to address similarities and dissimilarities between individual domains.


Alex is now editorial board member of JOSIS.

Alex has joined the editorial board of the Journal of Spatial Information Science, JOSIS.


Chelsea receives research grant from the Schreyer's Honors College.

Chelsea Gilliam, a senior majoring in Geography (Geographic Information Science option) and Anthropology, has received a summer research grant to support her follow-up study to her course project of Geog 464, Spatial Analysis and GIS. Chelsea will work with members of the Human Factors in GIScience Lab during the summer.  The follow up study involves analyzing buildings that have been formally characterized, to determine whether they are easy or difficult to navigate.  She and members of the lab will compare the differences of orientation performance between a real environment and a virtual environments.


The Human Factors Lab has several new members, please visit the people page for more information! 

Jinlong thesis was approved by the Schreyer Honors Program.


Jinlong receives an honorable mention for the for 2010-2011 AAG Marble-Boyle Undergraduate Achievement Award.


Paper accepted at CogSci2011


Title:The endpoint hypothesis: Comparing static and dynamic presentations of events

Authors: Rui Li, Alexander Klippel, Jinlong Yang

Abstract: We present results of two behavioral experiments on the conceptualization of geographic movement patterns (paths of hurricanes). The focus is on juxtaposing two types of presentation: static trajectories versus animated ones. We designed 72 animated and 72 static icons of hurricane movements and asked participants to group them. Within each condition we distinguished paths of hurricanes using topological equivalence classes. Topology allows for differentiating ending relations that are potentially relevant for event conceptualization (Regier, 2007). Results show that motion matters. Participants constructed static icon groups more distinctly and focused more on ending relations. The presentation mode additionally influenced linguistic description. These findings contribute to understanding and formalizing geographic event conceptualization.

Paper accepted at TopiCS


Title: Movement choremes: Bridging cognitive understanding and formal characterization of movement patterns.

Authors: Alexander Klippel

Abstract: This article discusses an approach to characterizing movement patterns (paths/trajectories) of individual agents that allows for relating aspects of cognitive conceptualization of movement patterns with formal spatial characterizations. To this end, we adopt a perspective of characterizing movement patterns on the basis of perceptual and conceptual invariants (PCI) that we term movement choremes (MC). MCs are formally grounded by behaviorally validating qualitative spatio-temporal calculi. Relating perceptual and cognitive aspects of space and formal theories of spatial information has shown promise to foster understanding of the semantics of movement patterns. Specifically, we discuss our approach in relation to existing qualitative formalisms such as the region connection calculus (RCC) and the Egenhofer’s intersection formalisms. We show that the movement choreme approach is compatible with these approaches but offers additional opportunities to improve the cognitive adequacy of these formalisms. We summarize this paper using a movement taxonomy that also provides guidance for future research.

Paper accepted at CaGIS


Title: The card sorting method for map symbol design

Authors: Robert. E. Roth, Benjamin. G. Finch, Justine I. Blanford, Alexander Klippel, Anthony C. Robinson, Alan M. MacEachren

Abstract: In this article, we describe the potential utility of the card sorting method for structuring and refining map symbol sets. Card sorting has been proposed as a method for delineating categories by researchers and practitioners in a variety of disciplines due to its ability to identify and explicate real or perceived structures in an information space; despite this, there is little reported application of card sorting within Cartography. To facilitate application of card sorting to cartographic problems, we offer a framework that prescribes the appropriate experimental design settings for the method based on the stage in the design process and the goals of the study. We then demonstrate the utility of card sorting for Cartography by describing a closed sorting study we conducted on the ANSI INCITS 415-2006 emergency mapping symbol standard. Our approach helped us identify several barriers to using the symbol standard, including areas of conceptual overlap among the categories included in the standard, potentially missing categories from the standard, and individual symbols in the standard that are consistently misclassified.

Paper accepted at CaGIS


Title: Analyzing Cognitive Conceptualizations Using Interactive Visual Environments

Authors: Alexander Klippel, Chris Weaver, Anthony C. Robinson

Abstract: The conceptualization of spatio-temporal information is an interdisciplinary research area. The focus of this article is on human conceptualizations of spatio-temporal geographic phenomena (also referred to as events). Identifying and understanding human conceptualizations is a crucial component in defining the semantics of spatio-temporal information. However, most research focuses primarily on how humans imbue dynamic phenomena with meaning on a general level. In contrast, this article is concerned with contextual factors (specifically: individual differences) that are too often neglected in general theories and in the analysis of behavioral data. In other words, we are interested in individual or group strategies of participants that are not detected by classical analysis methods. Research on individual difference is gaining widespread attention in cognitive and spatial sciences and it is time to consider individual differences in the area of conceptualizing spatio-temporal information. To be able to shed light on individual differences in behavioral data on how people conceptualize events, we have developed software solutions and combined them with established similarity measures. These software solutions allow analysts to effectively explore individual differences. We demonstrate the feasibility of our approach, its usefulness in analyzing behavioral data, and results that can be obtained through this individualized analysis by reanalyzing four sets of experimental data we previously collected.



Sen's Master Thesis

Sen recently finished his Master Thesis titled "EXPLORING REGIONAL VARIATION IN SPATIAL LANGUAGE: A CASE STUDY ON SPATIAL ORIENTATION BY USING VOLUNTEERED SPATIAL LANGUAGE DATA". In this study, through web crawling with postal codes, machine learning-based text classification and geo-referencing, a data collection schema for collecting spatially-distributed topic-specific web document is built. Focusing on spatial language usage, the Spatially-strAtified Route Direction Corpus (the SARD Corpus) is build (available for download here) After applying a semantic categorical analysis on cardinal vs. relative direction term usages, he uses TermTree Tool and Visual Inquiry Toolkit to explore regional linguistic variations in spatial language usages. For illustrated examples please refer to Sen's website

Contributions from Lab Members to the International Conference Spatial Cognition 2010

Li, R., & Klippel, A. (forthcoming). Using formal descriptions of environments to understand wayfinding behaviors: the differences between methods. Workshop of Environmental Modeling: Using Space Syntax in Spatial Cognition Research held at International Conference on Spatial Cognition 2010, Mt. Hood, Oregon, August 15, 2010.

Li, R., & Klippel, A. (2010). The differences of space syntax methods on explaining wayfinding behaviors: A preliminary comparison. Poster Proceedings of International Conference on Spatial Cognition 2010, Mt. Hood, Oregon, August 15-19, 2010.

Li, R. (2010). Using salient environmental characteristics to improve wayfinding and spatial awareness. Doctoral Colloquium at the International Conference on Spatial Cognition 2010, Mt. Hood, Oregon, August 19, 2010.

Xu, S., Klippel, A., MacEachren, A., Mitra, P., Turton, I., Zhang, X., & Jaiswal, A. (2010). Exploring regional variation in spatial language - a case study on spatial orientation with spatiallystratified web-sampled documents. Poster Proceedings of International Conference on Spatial Cognition 2010, Mt. Hood, Oregon, August 15-19, 2010.

Xu, S., Jaiswal, A., Zhang, X., Klippel, A., Mitra, P., & MacEachren, A. (2010). From data collection to analysis - exploring regional linguistic variation in route directions by spatially-stratified web sampling. In Computational Models of Spatial Language Interpretation (CoSLI) Workshop at Spatial Cognition 2010, Mt. Hood, Oregon.

Xu, S. (2010). Spatial knowledge from volunteered spatial language documents on the web. In Doctoral Colloquium at the International Conference on Spatial Cognition 2010, Mt. Hood, Oregon, August 19, 2010.

Yang, J., & Klippel, A. (2010). Assessing the cognitive adequacy of topological calculi in scaling movements. Poster Proceedings of International Conference on Spatial Cognition 2010, Mt. Hood, Oregon, August 15-19, 2010.

You Are Here 2: 2nd Workshop on Spatial Awareness and Geographic Knowledge Acquisition with Small Mobile Devices

Rui Li received travel award


For presenting his work at Spatial Cognition 2010 in Mt. Hood, Oregon, Rui Li was selected to receive a scholarship from the SFB/TR-8 Spatial Cognition (Trans-regional Research Center, University of Bremen and University of Freiburg, Germany) to support his travel to this conference.  This award supports Rui Li to present his research findings at several sections including the Environmental Modeling Workshop, the Doctoral Colloquium, and the main conference program (poster presentation).

Li, R., & Klippel, A. (2010). Using formal descriptions of environments to understand wayfinding behaviors: the differences between methods. Workshop of Environmental Modeling: Using Space Syntax in Spatial Cognition Research held at International Conference on Spatial Cognition 2010, Mt. Hood, Oregon, August 15, 2010.

Li, R., & Klippel, A. (2010). The differences of space syntax methods on explaining wayfinding behaviors: A preliminary comparison. Poster Proceedings of International Conference on Spatial Cognition 2010, Mt. Hood, Oregon, August 15-19, 2010.

Li, R. (2010). Using salient environmental characteristics to improve wayfinding and spatial awareness. Doctoral Colloquium at the International Conference on Spatial Cognition 2010, Mt. Hood, Oregon, August 19, 2010.

Paper accepted at the Annals of the AAG


Title: Interpreting spatial patterns: An inquiry into formal and cognitive aspects of Tobler's first law of geography.

Authors: Klippel, A., Hardisty, F., and Li, R.

Abstract. The characterization, identification, and understanding of spatial patterns form a central aspect of geography. Deeply rooted in the notion that geographic location matters, one testable assumption is that near things are more related than distant things—a concept often referred to as Tobler’s first law of geography. One means of quantifying this assumption is using measures of spatial autocorrelation. Several such measures have been developed to test whether a pattern is indeed clustered, or dispersed, or whether it is, from a statistical perspective, random. To shed light on how spatial patterns are understood from a cognitive perspective, this article reports results from studies of spatial pattern interpretation represented in maps. For the purpose of experimental validation we used a two-color map. We systematically varied the ratio of the colors as well as the level of significance of clustering and dispersion; we targeted two groups: experts and nonexperts. The task for both experts and non-experts was to sort patterns according to five specified categories of spatial autocorrelation structures. The results show clearly that patterns are understood on the basis of the dominant color, by both experts and non-experts. A third experiment, using a free classification paradigm, confirmed the dominance of the color effect. These results are important as they point to critical aspects of pattern perception and understanding that need to be addressed from the perspective of spatial thinking, especially how people relate concepts of randomness with spatial patterns (represented in maps).

Paper accepted at IJGIS


Title: Analysing spatio-temporal autocorrelation with LISTA-Viz

Authors: Hardisty, F. & Klippel, A.

Abstract. Many interesting analysis problems (for example, disease surveillance) would become more tractable if their spatio-temporal structure was better understood. Specifically, it would be helpful to be able to identify autocorrelation in space and time simultaneously. Some of the most commonly used measures of spatial association are LISA statistics, such as the Local Moran’s I or the Getis-Ord Gi*, however these have not been applied to the spatio-temporal case (including many time steps) due to computational limitations. We have implemented a spatio-temporal version of the Local Moran’s I, and claim two advances: First, we exploit the fact that there are a limited number of topological relationships present in the data to make Monte Carlo estimation of probability densities computationally practical, and thereby bypass the “curse of dimensionality”. We term this approach “spatial memoization”. Second, we developed a tool (LISTA-Viz) for interacting with the spatio-temporal structure uncovered by the statistics which contains a novel coordination strategy. The potential usefulness of the method and associated tool are illustrated by an analysis of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, with the finding that there was a critical spatio-temporal “inflection point” at which the pandemic changed its character in the United States.

Paper accepted at IEA-AIE 2010


Title: Psychophysical evaluation for a qualitative semantic image categorisation and retrieval approach

Authors: Ul-Qayyum, Zia; Cohn, Anthony G.; Klippel, Alexander

Jinlong Yang was awarded the Schreyer Honors College Summer Grant

This grant allows Jinlong to work on our project on the conceptualization of movement patterns.

Paper accepted at ICCI 2010

Title: Using space syntax to understand knowledge acquisition and wayfinding in indoor environments.

Authors: Rui Li, Alexander Klippel

Two papers accepted at GIScience 2010

1. Title: Cognitive invariants of geographic event conceptualization: What matters and what refines.

Authors: Alexander Klippel, Rui Li, Frank Hardisty, Chris Weaver

Abstract. Behavioral experiments addressing the conceptualization of geographic events are few and far between. Our research seeks to address this deficiency by developing an experimental framework on the conceptualization of movement patterns. In this paper, we report on a critical experiment that is designed to shed light on the question of cognitively salient invariants in such conceptualization. Invariants have been identified as being critical to human information processing, particularly for the processing of dynamic information. In our experiment, we systematically address cognitive invariants of one class of geographic events: single entity movement patterns. To this end, we designed 72 animated icons that depict the movement patterns of hurricanes around two invariants: size difference and topological equivalence class movement patterns endpoints. While the endpoint hypothesis, put forth by Regier (2007), claims a particular focus of human cognition to ending relations of events, other research suggests that simplicity principles guide categorization and, additionally, that static information is easier to process than dynamic information. Our experiments show a clear picture: Size matters. Nonetheless, we also find categorization behaviors consistent with experiments in both the spatial and temporal domain, namely that topology refines these behaviors and that topological equivalence classes are categorized consistently. These results are critical steppingstones in validating spatial formalism from a cognitive perspective and cognitively grounding work on ontologies.

2. Title: Automatic extraction of destinations, origins and route parts from human generated route directions.

Authors: Xiao Zhang, Prasenjit Mitra, Alexander Klippel, Alan M. MacEachren

Abstract. Researchers from the cognitive and spatial sciences are interested in studying text descriptions of movement patterns in order to study how humans communicate and understand spatial information. In particular, route directions offer a rich source of information on how cognitive systems conceptualize movement patterns by segmenting them into meaningful parts. Route directions show the plethora of cognitive spatial organization principles: Changing levels of granularity, hierarchical organization, incorporation of cognitively and perceptually salient elements and so forth. Identifying such information in text documents automatically is crucial for enabling machine-understanding of human spatial language. The benefits are: a) creating opportunities for large scale studies of human linguistic behavior; b) extracting and georeferencing salient entities (landmarks) that are used by human route direction providers; c) developing method to translate route direction to sketches and maps; and d) store movement data (route directions) for further queries. In this paper, we introduce our approach and implementations that bring us closer to the goal of automated route processing. Here we report on research directed to one part of the larger problem, extracting the three most critical parts of route directions and movement patterns in general: origin, destination, and route parts. We use machine-learning algorithms to extract these aspects of routes, including, for example, destination names and types. We prove the effectiveness of our approach in several experiments using hand tagged corpora.

Workshop at GIScience accepted

Workshop on movement pattern analysis has been accteped at the GIScience conference in Zurich.

Workshop at Spatial Cognition 2010 accepted

2nd Workshop on you-are-here maps and spatial awareness will be held at the Spatial Cognition conference 2010.

Senior Best Presentation Award at COSIT


Alex Klippel and Rui Li were received the senior best presentation award that the Conference on Spatial Information Theory COSIT. The presentation is based on the paper:

Klippel, A., & Li, R. (2009). The endpoint hypothesis: A topological-cognitive assessment of geographic scale movement patterns. In K. Stewart Hornsby, C. Claramunt, M. Denis, & G. Ligozat (Eds.), Spatial Information Theory, 9th International Conference, COSIT 2009, Aber Wrac'h, France, September 21-25, 2009 Proceedings (pp. 177–194). Berlin: Springer.

The work is part of Dr. Klippel's NSF project on Contextual influences on the category construction of geographic-scale movement patterns.

The paper can be downloaded here or directly from Springer. More information can be found on the project website.


Paper accepted at workshop: Studying Moving Objects in a three-dimensional world, 3rd Workshop on Behaviour Monitoring and Interpretation, BMI'09.


Title: A Chorematic Approach to Characterizing Movement Patterns

Abstract: We adopt a perspective of characterizing movement patterns on the
basis of conceptual primitives that we call movement choremes: MC. This theory is
an extension of our existing work on wayfinding choremes that specifically
addressed movement patterns important for wayfinding and route directions. Just
like in our previous work the goal is to develop a formal language that allows for
characterizing the movement of individual agents and entities from a cognitively
unifying perspective. By this we mean that while our main work concentrates on
the conceptual level of movement patterns, the framework is intended to
incorporate externalizations such as natural language and graphics (sketches) and
also formal theories of qualitative movement and spatial relation characterizations.
We discuss our approach in relation to existing frameworks such as RCC and the
9-intersection formalism to ground the potential of a formal-spatial language


NSF awared grant to Alex Klippel and Luke Zhang


Title: Spatial awareness through sapient interfaces




NSF awarded grant to Alex Klippel

Title: Contextual influences on the category construction of geographic-scale movement patterns


Official NSF abstract:

The world we live in is dynamic on all scales. On a small scale, think of walking across a room or driving to the grocery store; on a large scale, imagine a hurricane crossing a state. Research that addresses how humans understand relationships between space and time is, therefore, central not only to geography, but also to cognitive and information sciences. The objectives of this project are two-fold: to develop a research framework for examining how movement patterns at the geographic scale (MPGS) are understood, and to evaluate how formalisms used in geographic information science are able to capture how people understand MPGS. Linking cognitive and formal characterizations enables models that align with how people think about large scale spatial processes, thereby enhancing communication at the interface between humans and computers.
Dr. Alexander Klippel at the Pennsylvania State University will conduct a set of experiments that are based on a grouping paradigm that is used to elicit conceptual knowledge (i.e., categorization).  Participants view animations of large-scale spatial phenomena ending at different spatio-temporal stages.  For example, participants will look at 63 different animations of a hurricane approaching shore, making landfall, and finally moving far inland.  Participants will then classify these animations based on their similarities. The question these studies are attempting to answer is whether formal, topologically equivalent characterizations across different domains (e.g., whether the moving entity is a hurricane or a glacier) are also equivalent cognitively. In other words, how does the semantics of dynamic features influence the cognitive conceptualizations thereof? Does semantics change the cognitive salience of individual topological relations? Additionally, the project will address the geographically critical question of scale effects and a contribution will be made to the formal underpinning of geographic event language by relating the conceptualizations of movement patterns to linguistic externalizations. To accomplish these goals, the PI has developed software to both collect and analyze behavioral data efficiently.  The software to analyze the data will be developed within existing geovisual analytics software developed at the GeoVISTA Center in the Geography Department at the Pennsylvania State University.
This project will contribute to the understanding of how humans conceptualize movement patterns at the geographic scale, such as hurricanes moving across a peninsula, from the perspective of how these movement patterns are characterized formally. Connecting formal and cognitive characterizations of spatio-temporal information is essential to develop efficient human-computer interfaces and models of spatial cognition. This project will develop software solutions for the design of experiments and the efficient analysis of the collected data using visual analytics approaches. As cognitive conceptualizations are core to research on ontologies and categorization, and also to fields such as anthropology, we expect both the developed research framework and the software solutions to be beneficial to a large research community.

Alex Klippel gave the first talk in the coffee hour lecture series Fall 2009


Alex inaugurated the Fall Coffee Hour Lecture Series of the Department of Geography with a talk titled:

Toward a decade of the spatial mind: contributions and visions

The talk has been recorded and can be accessed via the coffee hour website (some technical problems occur in the first 5 minutes)

Submission accepted at WEBDB 2009

Title: Extracting route directions from webpages.

Zhang, Xiao; Mitra, Prasenjit; Jaiswal, Anuj; Xu, Sen; MacEachren, A. M.; Klippel, A.

Abstract: Linguists and geographers are more and more interested in route direction documents because they contain interesting motion descriptions and language patterns. A large number of such documents can be easily found on the Internet. A challenging task is to automatically extract meaningful route parts, i.e. destinations, origins and instructions, from route direction documents. However, no work exists on this issue. In this paper, we introduce our effort toward this goal. Based on our observation that sentences are the basic units for route parts, we propose a new approach which utilizes both HTML tag information and natural language knowledge to delimit sentences in HTML documents. Additionally, we study the sentence classication problem in route direction documents and its sequential nature. Several machine learning methods are compared and analyzed. The impacts of different sets of features are studied. Based on the obtained insights, we propose to use sequence labelling models such as CRFs and MEMMs and they yield a high accuracy in route part extraction. The approach is evaluated on over 10,000 hand-tagged sentences in 100 documents. The experimental results show the effectiveness of our method. The above techniques have been implemented and published as the rst module of the GeoCAM1 system, which will also be briey introduced in this paper.

Submission accepted at COSIT (Conference on Spatial Information Theory)

Title: The endpoint hypothesis: A topological-cognitive assessment of geographic scale movement patterns

Alexander Klippel & Rui Li

Abstract: Movement patterns of individual entities at the geographic scale are becoming a prominent research focus in spatial sciences. From the perspective of research at the interface of spatial and cognitive sciences the question arises how cognitive and formal characterizations of movement patterns relate. In other words, are (mostly qualitative) formal characterizations cognitively adequate? This article experimentally evaluates movement patterns that can be characterized as paths through a conceptual neighborhood graph, that is, two extended spatial entities are changing their topological relationship gradually. The central questions addressed are: (a) Do humans naturally use topology to create cognitive equivalent classes, that is, is topology the basis for categorizing movement patterns spatially? (b) Are ‘all’ topological relations equally salient, and (c) does language influence categorization. The first two questions are addressed using the endpoint hypothesis that has been formulated by Regier and Zhang (2007). To this end, movement patterns are distinguished by the topological relation they end in. The third question addresses the question whether language has an influence on the classification of movement patterns, that is, whether there is a difference between linguistic and non-linguistic category construction. In contrast to our previous research we were able to document the importance of topology for conceptualizing movement patterns but also reveal differences in the cognitive saliency of topological relations. The latter aspect calls for a weighted conceptual neighborhood graph to cognitively adequately model human conceptualization processes.

Submission accepted at SNRG 2009

Rui Li and Alex Klippel’s proposal “Stuck in the Stacks: Assessing and Improving Wayfinding in the Pattee and Paterno Libraries” has been accepted to present at the SNRG 2009 conference, where librarians from the Northeastern U.S. who are using the Integrated Library System (ILS) meet. The presentation will detail wayfinding solutions for the Penn State Libraries to audiences from all over the Northeastern United States, aiming to provide possible solutions to wayfinding problems which might exist in other libraries and indoor environment.

Submission accepted at Spatial Cognition and Computation

Title: Topologically Characterized Movement Patterns: A Cognitive Assessment

Abstract: In this paper, we discuss the role of topology as a predictor for the conceptualization of dynamically changing spatial configurations (referred to as movement patterns). We define meaningful units of movement patterns as paths through a topologically defined conceptual neighborhood graph. Topology plays a central role in formal approaches to human cognition and in predicting cognitive similarity ratings—although primarily for static spatial configurations. Formal specifications of the role of topology for characterizing movement patterns do exist, yet there is paucity of behavioral validation. To bridge this gap, we conducted an experiment based on the grouping paradigm to assess factors that underlie conceptualizations of movement patterns. The experiment was designed such that paths through the conceptual neighborhood graph were distinguished by topologically differentiated ending relations. We believe topology can make an important contribution in explaining movement conceptualizations. One recently formulated topology-based contribution is the endpoint hypothesis, asserting that a cognitive focus is placed on event ending relations. We discuss the results of our experiment in relation to previous experiments targeted toward a framework for modeling the cognitive conceptualization of dynamically changing spatial relations.

Submission accepted at the International Conference on Spatial Cognition (ICSC 2009)

Title: Linguistically encoded movement patterns – Sampling from the WWW to reveal regional differences

Sen Xu*, Alexander Klippel*, Alan M. MacEachren*, Prasenjit Mitra†, Ian Turton*, Xiao Zhang†, Anuj Jaiswal†

*GeoVISTA Center, Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA †Information Science and Technology, The Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA

Abstract: Language has a long tradition as a window to cognition and a particular focus has been placed on actions encoded linguistically (e.g., route directions). With the development of computational linguistics, the World Wide Web is becoming a resource that allows for systematically analyzing large corpora of text containing action descriptions that are spatially referenced. Our contribution advances evaluation possibilities for linguistic pattern existing within the same language describing movement patterns across different regions. We studied regional differences in the English language within human-created route directions extracted from the web. A corpus of about 10.000 documents that contain route directions has been created. These route directions are parsed into distinct parts such as origin, destination and meaningful route parts. Geo-references are identified in each document and matched against various databases (e.g., GeoNames) returning geo-coordinates. These coordinates allow us to regionalize the linguistic descriptions of movement patterns for further analysis. As a first focus, we are addressing the often raised question of how cardinal directions are used in route directions and whether regional differences in this usage pattern can be found. This analysis will allow us to map linguistic usage patterns on a regional scale such as the 50 states within the US. This approach can be extended to other countries and other languages. Regional linguistic differences can be analyzed in terms of political boundaries, terrain differences, and urban/rural areas. Other linguistic patterns such as preferences for multiword expressions or prepositions can be subsequently addressed.

Key words: Regional Linguistic difference, route description, spatial orientation, language pattern, cardinal/relative direction usage

Rui Li elected as Student director of EPBG

Rui Li, PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography at The Pennsylvania State University was elected as the Student Director of Environmental Perception and Behavioral Geography Specialty Group (EPBG) of American Association of Geographers (AAG) at the 2009 AAG Conference in Las Vegas. His role is to promote the research priorities of this specialty group among students and engagement of students' research within this group.