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Studying cartographic heritage: Analysis and visualization of geometric distortions
Jenny, B.; Hurni, L. (2011). Studying cartographic heritage: Analysis and visualization of geometric distortions. Computers & Graphics 35(2): 402-411.
In: Computers & Graphics. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 0097-8493, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Geodetic accuracy; Map projections
Author keywords
    Cartometry; Planimetric accuracy; History of cartography; Distortion grid

Authors  Top 
  • Jenny, B.
  • Hurni, L.

    Old maps are increasingly used as a source for historical research. This is a consequence of the increased availability of old maps in digital form, of the emergence of user-friendly Geographical Information Systems, and of a heightened awareness of the unique information stored in old maps. As with every source for historical studies, when old maps are georeferenced and information is extracted for historical research, the accuracy and reliability of the geometric and semantic information must be assessed. In this paper, a method based on a series of geometric transformations is presented, which transforms control points of a modern reference map to the coordinate system of an old map. Based on these transformed points, the planimetric and geodetic accuracy of the old map can be computationally analyzed and various visualizations of space deformation can be generated. The results are graphical representations of map distortion, such as distortion grids or displacement vectors, as well as statistical and geodetic measures describing the map geometry (e.g., map scale, rotation angle, and map projection). The visualizations help to assess the geometric accuracy of historical geographical information before using the data for geo-historical studies. The visualizations can also provide valuable information to the map historian about the history of a particular map and its creation.

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