Combining spatial transition probabilities for stochastic simulation of categorical fields

Guofeng Cao, Phaedon C. Kyriakidis, Michael F. Goodchild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Categorical spatial data, such as land use classes and socioeconomic statistics data, are important data sources in geographical information science (GIS). The investigation of spatial patterns implied in these data can benefit many aspects of GIS research, such as classification of spatial data, spatial data mining, and spatial uncertainty modeling. However, the discrete nature of categorical data limits the application of traditional kriging methods widely used in Gaussian random fields. In this article, we present a new probabilistic method for modeling the posterior probability of class occurrence at any target location in space-given known class labels at source data locations within a neighborhood around that prediction location. In the proposed method, transition probabilities rather than indicator covariances or variograms are used as measures of spatial structure and the conditional or posterior (multi-point) probability is approximated by a weighted combination of preposterior (two-point) transition probabilities, while accounting for spatial interdependencies often ignored by existing approaches. In addition, the connections of the proposed method with probabilistic graphical models (Bayesian networks) and weights of evidence method are also discussed. The advantages of this new proposed approach are analyzed and highlighted through a case study involving the generation of spatial patterns via sequential indicator simulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1773-1791
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Geographical Information Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Tau model
  • categorical data
  • conditional independence
  • indicator kriging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Library and Information Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Combining spatial transition probabilities for stochastic simulation of categorical fields'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this