Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of GIS

pp 1-10

Date: Latest Version

Reference Frames


Coordinate Systems; Reference Frames; Reference Systems


Humans conceptualize an entity’s spatial location in terms of qualitative relation to other entities, rather than metric coordinates. This has wide-ranging implications across fields in cognitive science and has led to the identification of a set of concepts called frame of reference (henceforth FoR). FoRs allow a systematic schematization of space by relating a to-be-located entity (including the self) to its environment (typically another entity) on the basis of qualitative direction concepts such as left, north, or point-of-view from above or from the self. Psychological research in particular distinguishes most centrally between allocentric (ego-independent) and egocentric (viewer-based) FoRs (Klatzky, 1998). In language, terms expressing direction generally require a FoR due to the variability of concepts that can provide a basis for establishing a directional relation between entities. Research in this area ...

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