First Law of Geography

M. F. Goodchild

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

14 Scopus citations


Tobler's first law was a product of the quantitative revolution of the 1960s, and of the efforts to turn geography into a nomothetic science. It was largely ignored as the quantitative revolution declined, but has recently gained prominence with the growth of geographic information systems. Despite notable exceptions, it is hard to imagine a world in which it is not true, and it provides a very useful principle for the design of geographic information systems and for the spatial analysis that such systems support. The law clearly applies in certain other spaces. Spatial heterogeneity is proposed as a second law. The discipline of geography today seems willing to accommodate a variety of views on the significance of the law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Human Geography
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9780080449104
ISBN (Print)9780080449111
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Geostatistics
  • Idiographic science
  • Nomothetic science
  • Positivism
  • Semantic interoperability
  • Spatial autocorrelation
  • Spatial dependence
  • Spatial heterogeneity
  • Spatial sampling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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