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Pattern, Process, and the Scale Problem in Geographical Research

David W. Harvey
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
No. 45 (Sep., 1968), pp. 71-78
DOI: 10.2307/621393
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/621393
Page Count: 8
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Pattern, Process, and the Scale Problem in Geographical Research
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Abstract

This paper examines a number of mathematical models suitable for describing spatial patterns. It is noted that many of these models suffer from a 'scale' problem in that the relevant statistic is partly dependent upon the size of area studied or the scale of the sampling procedure. This 'scale problem' has frequently been regarded as a major drawback to the employment of these models for describing spatial patterns. But geographers have long recognized that different processes are relevant for understanding areal differentiation at different scales--local, regional and national, for instance. The article, therefore, concludes that the problem of scale in the descriptive models of spatial pattern may be creatively linked with the problem of the scale at which a particular formative process operates. In particular, it is suggested that spatial autocorrelation functions may be developed to deal with the scale problem in a more comprehensive way and that, once developed, these spatial autocorrelation functions may be linked with the temporal processes governing the development of spatial patterns.

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