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ModifiableArealUnitProblem

Dr.TseChuanYang
TheModifiableArealUnitProblem(MAUP)referstothegeographicmanifestationoftheecological fallacyinwhichconclusionsbasedondataaggregatedtoaparticularsetofdistrictsmaychangeifone aggregatesthesameunderlyingdatatoadifferentsetofdistricts(WallerandGotway,2004).The literatureonMAUPcanbetracedbackto75yearsagowhenGehlkeandBiehl(1934)documentedthat thecorrelationcoefficientofmalejuveniledelinquencydifferedbythescaleofaggregationwiththe252 censustractsintheClevelandarea.Until1979,OpenshawandTaylor(1979)workedwiththeelection dataofthe99countiesinIowaandfirstcoinedthetermMAUPingeographicalinformationsciences. MAUPconsistsoftwocomponents:oneisthescaleproblemoraggregationproblemandtheotheris thegroupingorzoningproblem.Theformerconcernsthedifferentstatisticalinferencesandestimates generatedbythesamedatasetthatisaggregatedintodifferentspatialresolutions,especially aggregatingsmallareasintoalargerunit.Thelaterreferstothevariationinanalyticresultsdueto alternativegroupingofthearealunitsatthesamespatialscale(OpenshawandTaylor,1979;Openshaw, 1984;Wong,1996).Thesetwocomponentsmayintroduceerrorsaffectingthevalidityofresults.Given thatmanypolicydecisionsaremadebasedonthestatisticalassociationsobtainedfromtheanalysis withaggregateddata,researchershavebeenadvisedtobecautiouswhenconductingspatialanalyses onaggregateddata(Unwin1996;BaileyandGatrell,1995). Currently,thereisnoagreementonthesolutiontoMAUPyet,whileseveralstudieshaveattemptedto solveit(OpenshawandCharlton1987;BesagandNewell1991;Gatrelletal.1996).AccordingtoWrigley (1995),tosolveMAUP,twomethodologicaltoolsmustbecreated:anadequatestatisticalframework thatcandealwiththetwoproblemsaboveandaviablemethodthatallowsresearcherstodraw meaningfulinferencesaboutindividualsonthebasisofarealdataanalysis.Lately,ithasbeenargued theonlyrealresolutiontotheMAUPistouseindividualleveldatathataregeocodedtoaspecific (usuallyresidential)location(Weeks2004).However,duetoconfidentialityandprivacyissues,this approachhasbeenrarelypracticed.Analternativetothisapproachistoadoptalocalinsteadofaglobal parametermodeling,suchasgeographicallyweightedregression(Fotheringhametal.,2002).Despite thelackofasolutiontoMAUP,recognizingthescale(aggregation)andgrouping(zoning)problemsis imperative. WallerandGotway(2004)providedseveralwaystoamelioratetheeffectofMAUP.First,researchers canrefrainfrommakinginferencesattheindividuallevelwhenanalyzingaggregateddata.Second,data collectioncanbaseonthefeaturesaboutwhichresearcherswanttomakeinferences.Forinstance,if researcherswanttomakeinferenceaboutindividuals,theyneedtocollectinformationonpeople. Third,researcherscanusescaleindependentstatisticstomakeinferenceswhenpossible.Forinstance, includinggeographyasalatentvariablehasbeenfoundtoyieldsimilarresultsinspatiallinear regressionmodels(Cressie,1996).Statistically,choosingmodelswhoseparameterschangescanbe predictableshouldatleasthelpresearchersinferthecorrectmagnitudeanddirectionalityoftheeffect ofvariablesofinterest(Tobler,1989;Fotheringham,1989).

ReferencesandFurtherReadings: BaileyTCandGatrellAC.1995.InteractiveSpatialDataAnalysis,SecondEdition:Longman. BesagJandNewellJ.1991.Thedetectionofclustersinrarediseases.JournaloftheRoyal StatisticalSocietyA154:143155. CressieN.1996.Changeofsupportandthemodifiablearealunitproblem.Geographical Systems3:159180. FotheringhamAS..1989.Scaleindependentspatialanalysis..InMGoodchildandSGopal(eds), TheAccuracyofSpatialDataBases,pp:221228.London:Taylor&Francis. FotheringhamAS,BrunsdonC,andCharltonM.E.2002,GeographicallyWeightedRegression: TheAnalysisofSpatiallyVaryingRelationships,Chichester:Wiley. GatrellAC,BaileyTC,DigglePJandRowlingsonBS.1996.Spatialpointpatternanalysisandits applicationingeographicalepidemiology.Transactions,InstituteofBritishGeographers, NS21:256274. OpenshawS.1984.TheModifiableArealUnitProblem.Geobooks,Norwich,England. OpenshawSandCharltonM.1987.Amark1geographicalanalysismachinefortheautomated analysisofpointdatasets.InternationalJournalofGeographicalInformationSystems 1:335358. OpenshawS.andTaylorP.1979Amillionorsocorrelationcoefficients:threeexperimentson themodifiableareaunitproblem.InNWrigley(ed).StatisticalApplicationsintheSpatial Sciences.pp.127144,London.Pion. ToblerW.1989.Frameindependentspatialanalysis.InMGoodchildandSGopal(eds),The AccuracyofSpatialDataBases,pp:115122.London:Taylor&Francis. UnwinDJ.1996.GIS,spatialanalysisandspatialstatistics.ProgressinHumanGeography20(4): 540441. WeeksJR.2004.Theroleofspatialanalysisindemographicresearch.pp381399.InSpatially IntegratedSocialScience:ExamplesinBestPractice,ed.MFGoodchildandDGJanelle. NewYork:OxfordUniversityPress. WongDWS.1996.Aggregationeffectsingeoreferenceddata.InD.Griffith(ed.),Advanced SpatialAnalysis,pp83106.BocaRaton,FL:CRCPress. WrigleyN.1995.Revisitingthemodifiablearealunitproblemandtheecologicalfallacy.InAD Cliff,PRGould,AGHoare,andNJThrift(eds),DiffusingGeography,Blackwell:Oxford,UK.