A Simple Pipeline for Coherent Grid Maps

Wouter Meulemans (Corresponding author), Max F.M. Sondag (Corresponding author), Bettina Speckmann (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
229 Downloads (Pure)


Grid maps are spatial arrangements of simple tiles (often squares or hexagons), each of which represents a spatial element. They are an established, effective way to show complex data per spatial element, using visual encodings within each tile ranging from simple coloring to nested small-multiples visualizations. An effective grid map is coherent with the underlying geographic space: the tiles maintain the contiguity, neighborhoods and identifiability of the corresponding spatial elements, while the grid map as a whole maintains the global shape of the input. Of particular importance are salient local features of the global shape which need to be represented by tiles assigned to the appropriate spatial elements. State-of-the-art techniques can adequately deal only with simple cases, such as close-to-uniform spatial distributions or global shapes that have few characteristic features. We introduce a simple fully-automated 3-step pipeline for computing coherent grid maps. Each step is a well-studied problem: shape decomposition based on salient features, tile-based Mosaic Cartograms, and point-set matching. Our pipeline is a seamless composition of existing techniques for these problems and results in high-quality grid maps. We provide an implementation, demonstrate the efficacy of our approach on various complex datasets, and compare it to the state-of-the-art.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9216586
Pages (from-to)1236-1246
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • algorithms
  • geovisualization
  • Grid maps
  • small multiples
  • tile maps


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