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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The NCGIA Core Curriculum in GIS fulfilled needs for course materials for teaching geographic information systems in the early 1990s, prior to the widespread availability of textbooks. The curriculum was developed and made available by NCGIA as a 1,000+ page document organized into three volumes—Introduction to GIS, Technical Issues in GIS, and Application Issues in GIS. Each volume includes sufficient material for a one-term course and contains 25 units of lecture notes with suggested discussion and examination questions. While the Curriculum was designed primarily for use as an instructional development tool, the materials have also been used as class notes for distribution to students and as a self-study guide. Between August 1990 and January 1995, over 1,300 copies of the Curriculum were distributed by the NCGIA to institutions in over 70 countries.

Cover page of Introduction to the Core Curriculum in GIS

Introduction to the Core Curriculum in GIS


This short narrative introduces the Core Curriculum in GIS and provides a historical overview of the Core Curriculum Project, including the later Core Curriculum in GIScience and Core Curriculum for Technical Programs. Appended to this description is an original pamphlet advertising the Core Curriculum in GIS.

Cover page of Unit 38 - Digital Elevation Models

Unit 38 - Digital Elevation Models


This unit considers digital elevation models (DEMs) as one way of representing surfaces. It describes how DEMs are created and used, particularly in hydrology. Approaches for estimating elevation, slope and aspect, and for determining drainage networks are presented, along with a discussion of issues that may arise when automatically determining drainage networks from DEMs.

Cover page of Unit 57 - Decision Making Using Multiple Criteria

Unit 57 - Decision Making Using Multiple Criteria


This unit begins a three part module introducing concepts and techniques of spatial decision-making. Although it is far from a complete coverage of the topic, it will provide students with a sampling of the kinds of decision-making activities GIS will be required to support. This unit introduces students to the concept of multiple criteria decision making, outlines some of the simpler strategies developed to solve multiple criteria problems and demonstrates the potential applicability of GIS.

Cover page of Unit 70 - Legal Issues

Unit 70 - Legal Issues


This unit examines legal issues surrounding GIS. As a legal and economic entity, information may be quantified, owned, valuated, and used as evidence to resolve conflict, though none of these tasks is trivial. Liability scenarios—including errors in represented location and inappropriate uses of data—are discussed along with access and ownership issues, such as privacy and confidentiality, copyright and conflict of laws.

Cover page of Unit 48 - Line Generalization

Unit 48 - Line Generalization


This unit focuses on line generalization as it relates to GIS and cartography. Techniques including simplification, smoothing, feature displacement, line enhancement and merging are described, and several linear simplification algorithms are summarized. Approaches for mathematically evaluating simplification are outlined, and justifications for simplifying linear data are discussed.

Cover page of Unit 18 - Modes of User/GIS Interaction

Unit 18 - Modes of User/GIS Interaction


This unit introduces the different ways users can interact with GIS. It also provides an introduction to the range of interfaces available and will help students recognize differences between different GISs.

Cover page of Unit 36 - Hierarchical Data Structures

Unit 36 - Hierarchical Data Structures


This unit introduces hierarchical data structures for storing raster data, focusing on quadtrees and quadtree variants. The process of coding quadtrees and accessing data through a quadtree are described, and different data structures are compared.

Cover page of Unit 63 - Benchmarking

Unit 63 - Benchmarking


This is the fourth in a six-unit series on the design, purchase and implementation of a GIS. It discusses benchmarking, which allows a vendor’s proposed system to be evaluated in a controlled setting. Qualitative and quantitative benchmarking are described, and an example mathematical model developed for a quantitative benchmark is explained. Preparation for and execution of benchmarking are illustrated with an example from Alberta Government Telephones.

Cover page of Unit 30 - Storage of Complex Objects

Unit 30 - Storage of Complex Objects


This unit considers how to construct digital objects—i.e., points, lines and areas—out of sets of coordinates and how to represent their attributes and relationships. Strategies for representing this information in a GIS database are presented and illustrated with examples, and issues with each are discussed.

Cover page of Unit 31 - Efficient Storage of Lines - Chain Codes

Unit 31 - Efficient Storage of Lines - Chain Codes


This unit considers how the geometry of lines and areas is coded in a GIS database. Different techniques for coding straight lines, arcs of circles, and splines are presented, and advantages and disadvantages of each are discussed.