Terabytes of Tobler: Evaluating the First Law in a Massive, Domain-Neutral Representation of World Knowledge

  • Brent Hecht
  • Emily Moxley
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5756)


The First Law of Geography states, “everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.” Despite the fact that it is to a large degree what makes “spatial special,” the law has never been empirically evaluated on a large, domain-neutral representation of world knowledge. We address the gap in the literature about this critical idea by statistically examining the multitude of entities and relations between entities present across 22 different language editions of Wikipedia. We find that, at least according to the myriad authors of Wikipedia, the First Law is true to an overwhelming extent regardless of language-defined cultural domain.


Tobler’s Law First Law of Geography Spatial Autocorrelation Spatial Dependence Wikipedia 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brent Hecht
    • 1
  • Emily Moxley
    • 2
  1. 1.Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceNorthwestern UniversityEvanston
  2. 2.Electrical and Computer EngineeringUC Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara

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