Geographic Information Systems in the Sciences Class Spring 2012

Instructor: Professor Peter Fox - foxp at rpi dot edu
TA: Max Cane - canem at rpi dot edu
Meeting times: Tuesday and Friday afternoon 12:00 pm - 1:50 pm.
Office Hours: Tuesday 2:00-3:00pm in JRSC 1W06
phone: 518-276-4862
Class Listing: ERTH 4750 (98271)
Class Location SAGE 2704

Table of Contents


Introduction to relational analysis and interpretation of spatial data and their presentation on maps (using MapInfo software). Geographic spatial data concepts covered are map projections, reference frames, multivariate analysis, correlation analysis, regression, interpolation, exptrapolation, and kriging. Database concepts of building and manipulating a spatial database, SQL, spatial queries, and integration of graphic and tabular data are covered. During each class we will discuss topics and do examples. Related take-home exercises will be assigned. Depending on class size, students may be asked to present assignments to the rest of the class. Each student will do a semester-long project on some topic of particular interest to them, but also of relevance to the class. These projects will be presented to the class close to the last week. 4 credit hours.

Each Topic will meet for 3 to 4 hours per week, comprising 1.5 hours of instruction and approximately 2 hours of lab.

Syllabus/ Calendar

Refer to Reading/ Assignment/ Reference list for each week (see below).

Reading/ Assignment/ Reference List

Week 1 Reading Assignment:

  • None

Week 2 Reading Assignment:

  • Map Projections
  • Geo Reference Systems

Week 3 Reading Assignment:

  • Video Tutorials
  • MapInfo User Guide Chapter 3 (Basics, esp. Working with Layers in the Layer Control, p. 57) - layering
  • MapInfo User Guide Chapter 7 (Drawing and Editing Objects, esp. Editing, p. 170) - digitizing
  • MapInfo User Guide Chapter 10 (Buffering and Working with Objects, p. 268) - buffering
  • MapInfo User Guide Chapter 12 (Registering Raster Images, p.324) - registering

Assignment 1:

Assignment 1 document [Download]

Week 4 Reading Assignment:

  • Chapter 13: Putting your Data on a Map (Geocoding, pp. 353-364)

Week 5 Reading Assignment:

Week 6 Reading Assignment:

Week 7 Reading Assignment:

  • None

Term Assignment (individual):

Term Assignment document [Download]

Week 8 Reading Assignment:

Week 9 Reading Assignment:

  • No reading

Week 10 Reading Assignment:

  • MapInfo (10.8) User Guide
    • Chapter 5 Graphing your data
    • Chapter 7 Graphing and editing objects
    • Chapter 9 Pie charts, graduated symbols, etc.

Week 11 Reading Assignment:

  • Chapter 11 Stylizing your map for presentations and publishing
  • Chapter 15 Working with Web Services
  • Also reminder: Chapter 13 Getting your data in the map – and Geocoding versus Create Points (p336)

Week 12 Reading Assignment:

  • None

References (Some reserve materials are in the Folsom Library and Earth and Environmental Science Lounge JSRC)

GIScience Applications: Getting data files and software for THIS CLASS

Goals of the Course

  1. To provide students an opportunity to learn geospatial applications and tools.
  2. To introduce relational analysis and interpretation of spatial data and presentation on maps.
  3. Introduce spatial database concepts and technical aspects of query languages and geographic integration of graphic and tabular data.
  4. To introduce intermediate aspects of geospatial analysis: map projections, reference frames, multivariate analysis, correlation analysis, regression, interpolation, exptrapolation, and kriging.
  5. To gain experience in an end-to-end GIS application via a term project.

Course Learning Objectives

Through class lectures, practical sessions, written and oral presentation assignments and projects, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate proficiency in using geospatial applications and tools (commercial and open-source).
  • Present verbally relational analysis and interpretation of a variety of spatial data on maps.
  • Demonstrate skill in applying database concepts to build and manipulate a spatial database, SQL, spatial queries, and integration of graphic and tabular data.
  • Demonstrate intermediate knowledge of geospatial analysis methods and their applications.

Assessment Criteria

  • Via written assignments addressing each learning objective with specific percentage of grade allocation provided for each assignment and question
  • Via projects and presentations
  • Via participation in class (not to exceed 10% of total)
  • Late submission policy: first time with valid reason – no penalty, otherwise 20% of score deducted each late day

Academic Integrity

Student-teacher relationships are built on trust. For example, students must trust that teachers have made appropriate decisions about the structure and content of the courses they teach, and teachers must trust that the assignments that students turn in are their own. Acts, which violate this trust, undermine the educational process. The Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities defines various forms of Academic Dishonesty and you should make yourself familiar with these. In this class, all assignments that are turned in for a grade must represent the student’s own work. In cases where help was received, or teamwork was allowed, a notation on the assignment should indicate your collaboration. Submission of any assignment that is in violation of this policy will result in a penalty. If found in violation of the academic dishonesty policy, students may be subject to two types of penalties. The instructor administers an academic (grade) penalty, and the student may also enter the Institute judicial process and be subject to such additional sanctions as: warning, probation, suspension, expulsion, and alternative actions as defined in the current Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities. of an academic grade penalty or . If you have any question concerning this policy before submitting an assignment, please ask for clarification.

Suggested Prerequisites

  • Knowledge such that gained in geography, cartography.
  • or permission of the instructor

Attendance Policy

Enrolled students may miss at most one class without permission of the instructor. Missed classes will contribute to class participation assessments.

Course: GIScience

Date: to