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A Comparison Study on Natural and Head/tail Breaks Involving Digital Elevation Models
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Industrial Development, IT and Land Management.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The most widely used classification method for statistical mapping is Jenks’s natural breaks. However, it has been found that natural breaks is not good at classifying data which have scaling property. Scaling property is ubiquitous in many societal and natural phenomena. It can be explained as there are far more smaller things than larger ones. For example, there are far more shorter streets than longer ones, far more smaller street blocks than bigger ones, and far more smaller cities than larger ones. Head/tail breaks is a new classification scheme that is designed for values that exhibit scaling property. In Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), there are far more lower elevation points than higher elevation points. This study performs both head/tail breaks and natural breaks for values from five resolutions of DEMs. The aim of this study is to examine advantages and disadvantages of head/tail breaks classification scheme compared with natural breaks. One of the five resolutions of DEMs is given as an example to illustrate the principle behind the head/tail breaks in the case study.The results of head/tail breaks for five resolutions are slightly different from each other in number of classes or level of details. The similar results of comparisons support the previous finding that head/tail breaks is advantaged over natural breaks in reflecting the hierarchy of data. But the number of classes could be reduced for better statistical mapping. Otherwise the top values, which are very little, would be nearly invisible in the map.A main conclusion to be drawn from this study is that head/tail breaks classification scheme is advantaged over natural breaks in presenting hierarchy or scaling of elevation data, with the top classes gathered into one. Another conclusion is when the resolution gets higher; the scaling property gets more striking.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , iv+25+appendixes p.
Keyword [en]
Head/tail breaks, natural breaks, heavy-tailed distribution, scaling property, data classification, digital elevation models
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-15609OAI: diva2:658963
Subject / course
Educational program
Geomatics – bachelor’s programme (swe or eng)
Available from: 2013-11-05 Created: 2013-10-23 Last updated: 2015-12-11Bibliographically approved

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