Journal of Geographical Systems

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 199–213 | Cite as

Volume-preserving interpolation of a smooth surface from polygon-related data

  • Wolf-Dieter Rase


 The interpolation of continuous surfaces from discrete points is supported by most GIS software packages. Some packages provide additional options for the interpolation from 3D line objects, for example surface-specific lines, or contour lines digitized from topographic maps. Demographic, social and economic data can also be used to construct and display smooth surfaces. The variables are usually published as sums for polygonal units, such as the number of inhabitants in communities or counties. In the case of point and line objects the geometric properties have to be maintained in the interpolated surface. For polygon-based data the geometric properties of the polygon boundary and the volume should be preserved, avoiding redistribution of parts of the volume to neighboring units during interpolation. The pycnophylactic interpolation method computes a continuous surface from polygon-based data and simultaneously enforces volume preservation in the polygons. The original procedure using a regular grid is extended to surface representations based on an irregular triangular network (TIN).

Key words: Interpolation, surface, TIN, cartography, GIS, regional planning 
JEL classification: C63, C88 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolf-Dieter Rase
    • 1
  1. 1.Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR) Am Michaelshof 8, 53177 Bonn, Germany (e-mail:,

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