, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 311–330 | Cite as

Higher Order Vagueness in Geographical Information: Empirical Geographical Population of Type n Fuzzy Sets

  • Peter Fisher
  • Tao Cheng
  • Jo Wood


Fuzzy set theory has been suggested as a means for representing vague spatial phenomena, and is widely known for directly addressing some of the issues of vagueness such as the sorites paradox. Higher order vagueness is widely considered a necessary component of any theory of vagueness, but it is not so well known that it too is competently modelled by Type n Fuzzy sets. In this paper we explore the fuzzy representation of higher order vagueness with respect to spatial phenomena. Initially we relate the arguments on philosophical vagueness to Type n Fuzzy sets. As an example, we move on to an empirical generation of spatial Type 2 Fuzzy sets examining the spatial extent of mountain peaks in Scotland. We show that the Type 2 Fuzzy sets can be populated by using alternative parameterisations of a peak detection algorithm. Further ambiguities could also be explored using other parameters of this and other algorithms. We show some novel answers to interrogations of the mountain peaks of Scotland. The conclusion of this work is that higher order vagueness can be populated for Type 2 and higher fuzzy sets. It does not follow that it is always necessary to examine these higher order uncertainties, but a possible advantage in terms of the results of spatial inquiry is demonstrated.


fuzzy sets mountains geomorphometry type 2 fuzzy sets vagueness uncertainty 



We would like to thank Bob John of DeMontfort University for his comments on an earlier version of this paper. The Panorama DEM was supplied by Ordnance Survey through the EDINA service.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Information ScienceCity UniversityLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Land Surveying and Geo-InformaticsThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityKowloonHong Kong

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