Integration of linear and areal hierarchies for continuous multi-scale representation of road networks

Zhilin Li, Qi Zhou

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Spatial data can be represented at different scales, and this leads to the issue of multi-scale spatial representation. Multi-scale spatial representation has been widely applied to online mapping products (e.g., Google Maps and Yahoo Maps). However, in most current products, multi-scale representation can only be achieved through a series of maps at fixed scales, resulting in a discontinuity (i.e., with jumps) in the transformation between scales and a mismatch between the available scales and users' desired scales. Therefore, it is very desirable to achieve smoothly continuous multi-scale spatial representations. This article describes an integrated approach to build a hierarchical structure of a road network for continuous multi-scale representation purposes, especially continuous selective omission of roads in a network. In this hierarchical structure, the linear and areal hierarchies are constructed, respectively, using two existing approaches for the linear and areal patterns in a road network. Continuous multi-scale representation of a road network can be achieved by searching in these hierarchies. This approach is validated by applying it to two study areas, and the results are evaluated by both quantitative analysis with two measures (i.e., similarity and average connectivity) and visual inspection. Experimental results show that this integrated approach performs better than existing approaches, especially in terms of preservation of connectivity and patterns of a road network. With this approach, efficient and continuous multi-scale selective omission of road networks becomes feasible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-880
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Geographical Information Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012


  • areal hierarchy
  • linear hierarchy
  • multi-scale representation
  • road network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Library and Information Sciences


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