Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2023

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Spatial Information Science and Engineering


Max J. Egenhofer

Second Committee Member

M. Kate Beard-Tisdale

Third Committee Member

Matthew P. Dube


Cardinal directions, such as North, East, South, and West, are the foundation for qualitative spatial reasoning, a common field of GIS, Artificial Intelligence, and cognitive science. Such cardinal directions capture the relative spatial direction relation between a reference object and a target object, therefore, they are important search criteria in spatial databases. The projection-based model for such direction relations has been well investigated for point-like objects, yielding a relation algebra with strong inference power. The Direction Relation Matrix defines the simple region-to-region direction relations by approximating the reference object to a minimum bounding rectangle. Models that capture the direction between extended objects fall short when the two objects are close to each other. For instance, the forty-eight contiguous states of the US are colloquially considered to be South of Canada, yet they include regions that are to the North of some parts of Canada. This research considers the cardinal direction as a field that is distributed through space and may take on varying values depending on the location within a reference object. Therefore, the fundamental unit of space, the point, is used as a reference to form a point-based cardinal direction model. The model applies to capture the direction relation between point-to-region and region-to-region configurations. As such, the reference object is portioned into areas of same cardinal direction with respect to the target object. This thesis demonstrates there is a set of 106 cardinal point-to-region relations, which can be normalized by considering mirroring and 90° rotations, to a subset of 22 relations. The differentiating factor of the model is that a set of base relations defines the direction relation anywhere in the field, and the conceptual neighborhood graph of the base relations offers the opportunity to exploit the strong inference of point-based direction reasoning for simple regions of arbitrary shape. Considers the tiles and pockets of same cardinal direction, while a coarse model provides a union of all possible qualitative direction values between a reference region and a target region.

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