Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems: Theory and Applications

This course presents a framework for understanding and using the spatial analysis and modeling capacities of the major types of geographic information systems to better understand sites andtheir context. Students plan, describe, implement and evaluate GIS models that bring together site knowledge and digital data with the logic and operations of information systems. Prerequisite: This is not an introductory computing class. Students should be experienced and comfortable with creating and organizing digital documents, and keeping backups of their work. Topics Covered:

  • Introduction to Mapping with the ArcGIS InterfaceTo begin with, we will introduce the basics of working with ArcGIS 8.2to make maps and manage data.
  • Relational Databases, Theory and ApplicationsRelational databases form the core of most modern information systems. Students will learn how to use related tables of information to represent and explore the relationships among real-world entities.
  • Vector-Relational GIS, Theory and ApplicationsVector geographic information systems extend relational databases tosupport two-dimensional data types and their relationships. Students will learn to model geographic relationships using vector-relational operations and transformations.
  • Raster GIS, Theory and ApplicationsRaster geographic information systems represent the world as a meshes of locations, or surfaces. These systems present the analyst with a very rich kit of functions — map algebra — for modeling complex processessuchas slope, travel costs, and other complex spatial processes.
  • Image Processing GISAirborne and satellite-based scanners are becoming a very important source of spatial data. These devices provide very detailed real-time and historic images of places using precisely calibrated bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. Students will learn the theory and methods of classifying multi-spectral images into maps of land cover and change.
  • Advanced Infrastructure for GIS – Web and EnterpriseArchitecturesKeeping tabs on the world requires access to information from manyagencies and institutions. Students will learn how client-server architectures are used to create a distributed web of geographic knowledge that has become known as the Societal GIS.

Student Work and Basis of Grade: There will be 6 lab exercises,which involve the construction and evaluation of maps and models with ArcGIS8.2. These assignments may take from four to six hours per week. There are two lab sessions in which help will be available for these assignments, but students should expect to spend time working on the exercises outside of class as well. Each lab will involve the use of GIS, and severalparagraphs of written commentary. There will be one final assignment in whichstudents design their own GIS analysis project. The final project will be due at the end of finals week. The final project will be worth one third of the final grade. Meeting Times: The class will meet for lectures on Wednesdays from 9:00-11:00. Two lab sessions will run on Thursdays from 11:00-12:30 andfrom 12:30-2:00.