Interaction and visualization methods in teaching spatial algorithms and analyzing spatial data

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


    This thesis investigates the benefits of using interactive techniques and visualization in GIS. The thesis consists of two studies: in the first study the topic is teaching spatial data algorithms, and in the second performing spatial analysis. In the first study, the main research question was how software visualization can be used to help geoinformatics students learn spatial data structures and algorithms. In order to test this question, the TRAKLA2 learning environment for data structures and algorithms was expanded to include spatial data algorithms. Using the system, the students practice how spatial algorithms and data structures work by simulating the modifications an algorithm does to a data structure. The system has been used in an actual spatial data algorithms course, and its effect on the students' learning results has been evaluated using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods were used to compare the students' learning results in the system to their results in exams; qualitative methods were used for content analysis and analyzing student interviews using semi-structured interview method. The results gained indicate that visual learning environments can be used to help teaching spatial data algorithms. The topic of the second study is exploratory methods, their use in solving suitability problems, and the new information that can be gained by using them. In a suitability problem the goal is to categorize locations based on how well they fit the criteria for some activity. To test these questions a prototype for a flexible spatial analysis was implemented. The prototype is based on the ideas of exploratory analysis and visual analytics, and contains simple analysis tools. The developed system has been used to analyse the off-road mobility of vehicles using an armored personnel carrier as the example vehicle. The results have been evaluated by comparing them to an existing mobility model created by Finnish Defense Forces, and by expert evaluation of the analysis results. The results indicate that exploratory methods work just as well as traditional model-based approaches.
    Translated title of the contributionVuorovaikutus ja havainnollistaminen sijaintitietoalgoritmien opetuksessa ja paikkatiedon analyysissä
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor's degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Aalto University
    • Malmi, Lauri, Supervising Professor
    • Virrantaus, Kirsi-Kanerva, Thesis Advisor
    Print ISBNs978-952-60-4826-0
    Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-4827-7
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


    • education
    • interaction
    • information visualization
    • software visualization
    • spatial analysis
    • spatial data

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