Barry Smith. Papers on the Ontology of Geography



Ontological Tools for Geographic Representation

R Casati, B Smith, A Varzi Formal Ontology in Information Systems, N. Guarino (ed.), Amsterdam, Oxford, Tokyo, Washington, DC: IOS Press (Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications), 1998, 77–85.

This paper is concerned with certain ontological issues in the foundations of geographic representation. It sets out what these basic issues are, describes the tools needed to deal with them, and draws some implications for a general theory of spatial representation. Our approach


Ontology and geographic kinds

B SmithDM Mark – 1998. T. Poiker and N. Chrisman (eds.), Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Spatial Data Handling (SDH ‘98), Vancouver, 1998, 308–320.

An ontology of geographic kinds is designed to yield a better understanding of the structure of the geographic world, and to support the development of geographic information systems that are conceptually sound. This paper first demonstrates that geographical objects and ...


Ontology with human subjects testing: An empirical investigation of geographic categories

DM MarkB Smith, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 58: 2 (April 1999), 245–272.

Can we use empirical methods to test the ontological theories embodied in human cognition? We set forth the outlines of a framework for the formulation and testing of such theories as they relate to the specific domain of geographic objects and categories.


Ontology and geographic objects: An empirical study of cognitive categorization

DM MarkB Smith, B Tversky - in C. Freksa and David M. Mark (eds.), Spatial Information Theory. Cognitive and Computational Foundations of Geographic Information Science (Lecture Notes in Computer Science 1661), 1999, 283–298.

Abstract Cognitive categories in the geographic realm manifest certain special features as contrasted with categories for objects at surveyable scales. We argue that these features reflect specific ontological characteristics of geographic objects. This paper presents ...


Geographical categories: an ontological investigation

B SmithDM Mark - International journal of Geographical Information Science, 2001 - Taylor & Francis

This paper reports the results of a series of experiments designed to establish how non-expert subjects conceptualize geospatial phenomena. Subjects were asked to give examples of geographical categories in response to a series of differently phrased ...

Postscript as: Geographical Categories: An Ontological Retrospective”,

Peter Fisher (ed.), Classics from the International Journal of Geographical Information Science, London: Taylor and Francis, 2006, 507–512.


Features, objects, and other things: Ontological distinctions in the geographic domain

DM MarkA SkupinB Smith - Spatial Information Theory, 2001 - Springer

Two hundred and sixty-three subjects each gave examples for one of five geographic categories: geographic features, geographic objects, geographic concepts, something geographic, and something that could be portrayed on a map. The frequencies ...


Fiat Objects

B Smith - Topoi, 20: 2 (September 2001), 131–148.

Extended entities have boundaries of two different sorts: those that do, and those that do not correspond to physical discontinuities. Call the first sort (coastlines, the surface of your nose) bona fide boundaries; and the second (the boundary of Montana, the boundary separating your upper from your lower torso) fiat boundaries.


Do mountains exist? Towards an ontology of landforms

B SmithD Mark - 2003 - Environment and Planning B (Planning and Design), 30(3) (2003), 411–427

Do mountains exist? The answer to this question is surely: yes. In fact, ‘mountain’ is the example of a kind of geographic feature or thing most commonly cited by English speakers (Mark, et al., 1999; Smith and Mark 2001), and this result may hold across many languages and cultures. But whether they are considered as individuals (tokens) or as kinds (types), mountains do not exist in quite the same unequivocal sense as do such prototypical everyday objects as chairs or people.


A Theory of Granular Partitions

T Bittner, B Smith Foundations of Geographic Information Science, M. Duckham, M.F. Goodchild and M. F. Worboys (eds.), London: Taylor & Francis, 2003, 117–151.

We have a variety of different ways of dividing up, classifying, mapping, sorting and listing the objects in reality. The theory of granular partitions presented here seeks to provide a general and unified basis for understanding such phenomena in formal terms


A science of topography: from qualitative ontology to digital representations

DM MarkB Smith - Michael P. Bishop and John F. Shroder (eds.), Geographic Information Science and Mountain Geomorphology, Chichester, England: Springer-Praxis, 2004, 75-100.

Mountains are among the most prominent of geographic features (Smith and Mark, 2001). 
They also have social and emotional significance, serving as objects of worship in many 
cultures and as landmarks in many more. And, of course, mountains provide challenges to 


A Spatio-Temporal Ontology for Geographic Information Integration

T Bittner, M Donnelly, B Smith International Journal for Geographical Information Science, 23 (6), 2009, 765-798.

This paper presents an axiomatic formalization of a theory of top-level relations between three categories of entities: individuals, universals, and collections. We deal with a variety of relations between entities in these categories, including the sub-universal relation among universals and the parthood relation among individuals