Density equalizing distortion of large geographic point sets

Peter Bak*, Matthias Schaefer, Andreas Stoffel, Daniel A. Keim, Itzhak Omer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Visualizing large geo-demographical datasets using pixel-based techniques involves mapping the geospatial dimensions of a data point to screen coordinates and appropriately encoding its statistical value by color. The analysis of such data presents a great challenge. General tasks involve clustering, categorization, and searching for patterns of interest for sociological or economic research. Available visual encodings and screen space limitations lead to over-plotting and hiding of patterns and clusters in densely populated areas, while sparsely populated areas waste space and draw the attention away from the areas of interest. In this paper, two new approaches (RadialScale and AngularScale) are introduced to create density-equalized maps, while preserving recognizable features and neighborhoods in the visualization. These approaches build the core of a multi-scaling technique based on local features of the data described as local minima and maxima of point density. Scaling is conducted several times around these features, which leads to more homogeneous distortions. Results are illustrated using several real-world datasets. Our evaluation shows that the proposed techniques outperform traditional techniques as regard the homogeneity of the resulting data distributions and therefore build a more appropriate basis for analytic purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-250
Number of pages14
JournalCartography and Geographic Information Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009


FundersFunder number
German Research Society
Deutsche ForschungsgemeinschaftGK-1042


    • Geographic visualization
    • Geospatial data analysis
    • Point density distortions and scaling


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