Properties of cartographic modelling under contemporary definitions of a map

M. Baranowski , Dariusz Gotlib , Robert Olszewski


The identity of cartography is determined by the manner of defining and interpreting the concept of “map”. However, the term has not been unequivocally articulated as yet. There are many different definitions of maps available in literature – from those viewing map as a scaled-down, planar, graphic representation of geographical space, to those that equate a map to a specific model that is independent of the form of its presentation. Interestingly enough, the basis of such universal treatment of the map concept can be found already in the scientific works from the 1960s. Although contemporary definitions do not limit a map to a single form of presentation, such over-simplification still persists. The issue has become very relevant given the rapidly increasing number of diverse geospatial applications designed to access spatial data and present it in diverse forms. So far, however, there are no clear rules for categorizing a given representation as cartographic or non-cartographic. And this often gives rise to various misconceptions, e.g. regarding the role and responsibilities of cartography as science and practical activity. According to the authors of the article, a map is an ordered informational structure shaped by the years of practical experience and research in the field of cartography. Map arising in the process of cartographic modelling is understood as one of many possible models of the portrayed space. The model is formed in the course of thought processes, including abstraction and generalization in particular. Creation of the model involves the use of symbolism that can be decoded by the recipient.This does not mean, however, that the process of symbolization is limited exclusively to graphical representations. Map is also a tool for presenting spatial information in a visual, digital or tactile way. Therefore, the essence of map is determined by its “model” nature rather than the format of the cartographic message. The authors have assumed that map is formed in the process of cartographic modelling and certain properties of the process can be defined, that distinguish it from other methods of spatial modelling. The properties recognized as characteristic for cartographic modelling include space portraying that enables identification of types of objects and phenomena, describing spatial relationships between objects, as well as their positioning in the applied reference system. In the authors’ opinion, properties of cartographic modelling include also the intentional application of a specific level of generalization determined by the objective of the map, aware authorship of the message, unambiguity of communication and symbolization based on knowledge. The proposed approach should facilitate the classification of different products designed to represent space.
Author M. Baranowski
M. Baranowski,,
, Dariusz Gotlib (FGC / DC)
Dariusz Gotlib,,
- Department of Cartography
, Robert Olszewski (FGC / DC)
Robert Olszewski,,
- Department of Cartography
Journal seriesPolish Cartographical Review, [Polski Przegląd Kartograficzny], ISSN 0324-8321
Issue year2016
Publication size in sheets0.7
Keywords in English cartographic modelling, definition of a map, theory of cartography, model of space, geoinformation
Internal identifier139/2016
Languageen angielski
2016_Properties of cartographic modelling _Gotlib, Olszewski_139.pdf 877.43 KB
Additional file
2016_oswiadczenie_Gotlib_139.pdf 864.92 KB
Score (nominal)8
Score sourcejournalList
ScoreMinisterial score = 8.0, 05-02-2020, ArticleFromJournal
Ministerial score (2013-2016) = 8.0, 05-02-2020, ArticleFromJournal
Publication indicators GS Citations = 4.0
Citation count*4 (2020-09-13)
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* presented citation count is obtained through Internet information analysis and it is close to the number calculated by the Publish or Perish system.
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