Journal of Geo-information Science ›› 2023, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (6): 1135-1147.doi: 10.12082/dqxxkx.2023.230025

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Formal Representation and Reasoning Mechanism for Vague Spatial Location Description based on Supervaluation

ZHANG Xueying1,2(), YE Peng3,4,*(), ZHANG Huifeng1,2   

  1. 1. Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Virtual Geographic Environment, Nanjing Normal University, Ministry of Education, Nanjing 210023, China
    3. Urban Planning and Development Institute, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225127, China
    4. College of Architectural Science and Engineering, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225127, China
  • Received:2023-01-17 Revised:2023-03-31 Online:2023-06-25 Published:2023-06-02
  • Contact: *YE Peng, E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41971337);National Key Research and Development Program of China(2021YFB3900903);Key Project of Philosophy and Social Science Research in Colleges and Universities in Jiangsu Province(2022SJYB2128)


Location description is the natural language expression of human spatial cognition. Since natural language is the primary and basic means of information transmission in human society, location description is an important medium for transmitting spatial location information in human communication. Spatial positioning based on spatial location description is the key to intelligent transformation of location-based services in the era of big data. To solve the problem that the vagueness of location description in different contexts is significantly different and results in difficulty in positioning, this paper proposes a representation method and reasoning mechanism for vague location description. Firstly, by combing the law of human spatial cognition, the types of elements concerned in the description of natural language are clarified. Based on the analysis of the sources of vagueness, a formal representation of vague location description is constructed. Different from the traditional spatial information modeling which focuses on spatial relationship, the formal representation proposed in this paper establishes the vagueness relation and influence among different information factors by the strategy of multi-factors representation. The formal representation also enhances the semantic analysis ability for the vagueness of location description. Secondly, based on supervaluation theory, the reasoning mechanism of vague location description is proposed from three aspects: spatial object, distance relation, and direction relation. Considering the context semantics of spatial location description, the threshold of observation value is used to carry out spatial reasoning. By being super-valued to different contexts, the reasoning results in different situations are obtained. The aim of the reasoning mechanism is to establish the mapping relationship between vague location description and real spatial location. Thirdly, a Question-Answering (Q&A) system is designed to collect contexts of location description, and a case study on the method is conducted. In the case study, a group of users' viewpoints from Q&A on spatial cognition are transformed into the spatial scope in the real world. These spatial scopes can establish the relationship between qualitative spatial concepts and quantitative spatial data, so as to realize the representation of vague location description in GIS. The results show that the proposed method in this paper can adjust the granularity of formal representation of location description in time according to actual application scenarios, and the spatial reasoning results fit intuitive cognition. In the future, knowledge graphs will be introduced to further improve the semantic reasoning ability and positioning accuracy for vague location description.

Key words: location description, vagueness, supervaluation theory, formal representation, reasoning mechanism, spatial assertion, spatial object, spatial relationship