51st Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "New Challenges for European Regions and Urban Areas in a Globalised World", 30 August - 3 September 2011, Barcelona, Spain
Comparison of thematic maps is an important task in a number of disciplines. Map comparison has traditionally been conducted using cell-by-cell agreement indicators, such as the Kappa measure. More recently, other methods have been proposed that take into account not only spatially coincident cells in two maps, but also their surroundings or the spatial structure of their differences. The objective of this paper is to propose a framework for map comparison that considers 1) the patterns of spatial association in two maps, in other words, the map elements in their surroundings; 2) the equivalence of those patterns; and 3) the independence of patterns between maps. Two new statistics for the spatial analysis of qualitative data are introduced. These statistics are based on the symbolic entropy of the maps, and function as measures of map compositional equivalence and independence. As well, all inferential elements to conduct hypothesis testing are developed. The framework is illustrated using real and synthetic maps.