Basic topological models for spatial entities in 3-dimensional space

Zhilin Li, Yongli Li, Yong Qi Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, models of spatial relations, especially topological relations, have attracted much attention from the GIS community. In this paper, some basic topologic models for spatial entities in both vector and raster spaces are discussed. It has been suggested that, in vector space, an open set in 1-D space may not be an open set any more in 2-D and 3-D spaces. Similarly, an open set in 2-D vector space may also not be an open set any more in 3-D vector spaces. As a result, fundamental topological concepts such as boundary and interior are not valid any more when a lower dimensional spatial entity is embedded in higher dimensional space. For example, in 2-D, a line has no interior and the line itself (not its two end-points) forms a boundary. Failure to recognize this fundamental topological property will lead to topological paradox. It has also been stated that the topological models for raster entities are different in Z2and R2. There are different types of possible boundaries depending on the definition of adjacency or connectedness. If connectedness is not carefully defined, topological paradox may also occur. In raster space, the basic topological concept in vector space-connectedness-is implicitly inherited. This is why the topological properties of spatial entities can also be studied in raster space. Study of entities in raster (discrete) space could be a more efficient method than in vector space, as the expression of spatial entities in discrete space is more explicit than that in connected space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-433
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000


  • Raster space
  • Spatial entities
  • Topological models
  • Topological properties
  • Vector space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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