Visualization of Polygon-Based Data as a Continuous Surface

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Executive Summary

Most information for spatial analysis and research in economic and social geography is aggregated into totals associated with units which are polygons. To facilitate comparisons between the units the totals are normalized by a reference variable, such as the area of the polygon. Such kind of data is usually visualized as 2D or 3D choropleth maps, but an alternative is a continuous surface. The main property of the 3D choropleth map, the volume above the polygons, must be preserved, requiring a volume-preserving interpolation method. The average of the heights in a polygon are kept constant by changing heights of the points within the polygon. Obtaining a smooth surface requires additional points to be inserted into the polygon arranged on a regular square or triangular grid.

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