Using Genetic Algorithms to Create Multicriteria Class Intervals for Choropleth Maps

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Annals of the Association of American Geographers

DOI of Published Version


Start Page


End Page



During the past three decades a large body of research has investigated the problem of specifying class intervals for choropleth maps. This work, however, has focused almost exclusively on placing observations in quasi-continuous data distributions into ordinal bins along the number line. All enumeration units that fall into each bin are then assigned an areal symbol that is used to create the choropleth map. The geographical characteristics of the data are only indirectly considered by such approaches to classification. In this article, we design, implement, and evaluate a new approach to classification that places class-interval selection into a multicriteria framework. In this framework, we consider not only number–line relationships, but also the area covered by each class, the fragmentation of the resulting classifications, and the degree to which they are spatially autocorrelated. This task is accomplished through the use of a genetic algorithm that creates optimal classifications with respect to multiple criteria. These results can be evaluated and a selection of one or more classifications can be made based on the goals of the cartographer. An interactive software tool to support classification decisions is also designed and described. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]; Copyright of Annals of the Association of American Geographers is the property of Taylor & Francis Ltd and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

Published Article/Book Citation

Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 93:3 (2003) pp.595-623.

This document is currently not available here.