Skip to main content
Intended for healthcare professionals
Restricted access
Research article
First published October 1998

High-Performance Computing and Geography: Developments, Issues, and Case Studies


In this paper we outline some of the results that were obtained by the application of a Cray T3D parallel supercomputer to human geography problems. We emphasise the fundamental importance of high-performance computing (HPC) as a future relevant paradigm for doing geography. We offer an introduction to recent developments and illustrate how new computational intelligence technologies can start to be used to make use of opportunities created by data riches from geographic information systems, artificial intelligence tools, and HPC in geography.

Get full access to this article

View all access and purchase options for this article.


Batty M, 1976 Urban Modelling (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge)
Bezek J C, 1995, “What is computational intelligence?”, in Computational Intelligence: Imitating Life Eds Zurada J, Marks R, Robinson C, (IEEE, New York) pp 1–12
Birkin M, Clarke G, 1995, “Using microsimulation to synthesize census data”, in Census Users Handbook Ed. Openshaw S, (GeoInternational, Cambridge) pp 363–387
Birkin M, Clarke M, George F, 1995, “The use of parallel computers to solve nonlinear spatial optimisation problems” Environment and Planning A 27 1049–1068
Birkin M, Clarke M, Clarke G, Wilson A, 1996 Intelligent GIS (GeoInformation International, Cambridge)
Catlow R, 1992, “Research requirements for high performance computing”, report of the scientific working party, Science and Engineering Research Council, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon
Diplock G, Openshaw S, 1996, “Using simple genetic algorithms to calibrate spatial interaction models” Geographical Analysis 28 262–279
EPSRC, 1995, “A review of supercomputing 1994”, Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon
Fletcher R, 1987 Practical Methods of Optimization (John Wiley, Chichester, Sussex)
Gilbert G, Conte R, (Eds), 1995 Artificial Societies (UCL Press, London)
Gilbert G, Doran J, 1994 Simulating Societies: The Computer Simulation of Social Phenomena (UCL Press, London)
Gittings B, Roche S, 1996, “Parallel polygon line shading: The quest for more computational power from an existing GIS algorithm” International Journal of GIS 10 731–746
Harris B, 1985, “Some notes on parallel computing with special reference to transportation and land-use modelling” Environment and Planning A 17 1275–1278
Hillis W, 1992, “What is massively parallel computing and why is it important?”, in A New Era in Computation Eds Metropolis N, Rota G, (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA) pp 1–15
Koza J, 1992 Genetic Programming: On the Programming of Computers by Means of Natural Selection (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA)
O'Hare G, Jennings N, (Eds), 1995 Foundations of Distributed AI (John Wiley, Chichester, Sussex)
Openshaw S, 1977a, “A geographical solution to scale and aggregation problems in region building partitioning, and spatial modelling” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, New Series 2 459–472
Openshaw S, 1977b, “Optimal zoning systems for spatial interaction models” Environment and Planning A 9 169–184
Openshaw S, 1978a, “An empirical study of some zone design criteria” Environment and Planning A 10 781–794
Openshaw S, 1978b, “An optimal zoning approach to the study of spatially aggregated data”, in Spatial Representation and Spatial Interaction Eds Masser I, Brown P, (Martinus Nijhoff, Boston, MA) pp 95–113
Openshaw S, 1979, “A methodology for using models for planning purposes” Environment and Planning A 11 879–896
Openshaw S, 1984 The Modifiable Areal Unit Problem CATMOG 38 (Geo Abstracts, Norwich)
Openshaw S, 1988, “Building an automated modelling system to explore a universe of spatial interaction models” Geographical Analysis 20 31–46
Openshaw S, 1994a, “Computational human geography: Towards a research agenda” Environment and Planning A 26 499–505
Openshaw S, 1994b, “GIS crime and spatial analysis”, in Proceedings of GIS and Public Policy Conference (Ulster Business School, Coleraine, Ulster) pp 22–35
Openshaw S, 1994c, “A concepts-rich approach to spatial analysis, theory generation, and scientific discovery in GIS using massively parallel computing”, in Innovations in GIS 1 Ed. Warboys M, (Taylor and Francis, London) pp 123–138
Openshaw S, 1995, “Human systems modelling as a new grand challenge area in science” Environment and Planning A 27 262–279
Openshaw S, 1996, “Developing GIS-relevant zone-based spatial analysis methods”, in Spatial Analysis: Modelling in a GIS Environment Eds Longley P, Batty M, (GeoInformation International, Cambridge) pp 55–73
Openshaw S, Openshaw C, 1997 Artificial Intelligence in Geography (John Wiley, Chichester, Sussex)
Openshaw S, Rao L, 1995, “Algorithms for reengineering 1991 Census geography” Environment and Planning A 27 425–446
Openshaw S, Schmidt J, 1996, “Parallel simulated annealing and genetic algorithms for re-engineering zoning systems” Geographical Systems 3 201–220
Openshaw S, Carver S, Charlton M, 1991, “Error propagation in GIS: A Monte Carlo simulation”, in Handling Geographical Information: Methodology and Practical Applications Eds Masser I, Blakemore M, (Longman, Harlow, Essex) pp 78–101
Rees P, 1996, “Projecting the national and regional populations of the European Union using migration information”, in Population Migration in the European Union Eds Rees P, Stillwell J, Convey A, Kupiszewski M, (John Wiley, Chichester, Sussex) pp 331–364
Rogers A, 1995 Multiregional Demography: Principles, Methods and Extensions (John Wiley, Chichester, Sussex)
Turton I, Openshaw S, Diplock G, 1997, “A genetic programming approach to building new spatial interaction models relevant to GIS”, in Innovations in GIS Ed. Kemp Z, (Taylor and Francis, London) pp 89–102
Wilson A, 1974 Urban and Regional Models in Geography and Planning (John Wiley, Chichester, Sussex)

Cite article

Cite article

Cite article


Download to reference manager

If you have citation software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice

Share options


Share this article

Share with email

Share access to this article

Sharing links are not relevant where the article is open access and not available if you do not have a subscription.

For more information view the Sage Journals article sharing page.

Information, rights and permissions


Published In

Article first published: October 1998
Issue published: October 1998

Rights and permissions

© 1998 SAGE Publications.
Request permissions for this article.


Manuscript received: January 15, 1997
Revision received: October 27, 1997
Published online: October 1, 1998
Issue published: October 1998



I Turton
Centre for Computational Geography, School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, England
S Openshaw
Centre for Computational Geography, School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, England


Metrics and citations


Journals metrics

This article was published in Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space.


Article usage*

Total views and downloads: 27

*Article usage tracking started in December 2016


See the impact this article is making through the number of times it’s been read, and the Altmetric Score.
Learn more about the Altmetric Scores

Articles citing this one

Web of Science: 14 view articles Opens in new tab

Crossref: 16

  1. The role of spatial cyberinfrastructure in geoinformation systems
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  2. Parallel cartographic modeling: a methodology for parallelizing spatia...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  3. Geospatial big data handling theory and methods: A review and research...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  4. A k-d tree-based algorithm to parallelize Kriging interpolation of big...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  5. GeoComputation
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  6. Parallel construction of large circular cartograms using graphics proc...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  7. High-performance computing for climate change impact studies with the ...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  8. High-performance computing tools for the integrated assessment and mod...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  9. Advances in geocomputation (1996–2011)
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  10. The emergence of spatial cyberinfrastructure
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  11. Parallel cellular automata for large-scale urban simulation using load...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  12. HPABM: A Hierarchical Parallel Simulation Framework for Spatially-expl...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  13. Research on Jiuquan-Jiayuguan-Yumen Region's Dynamic Changing of Urban...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  14. HPC and Human Geographic Social Science Research
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  15. Some Trends and Future Perspectives for Spatial Analysis in GIS
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  16. Guest Editorial
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar

Figures and tables

Figures & Media


View Options

Get access

Access options

If you have access to journal content via a personal subscription, university, library, employer or society, select from the options below:

Alternatively, view purchase options below:

Purchase 24 hour online access to view and download content.

Access journal content via a DeepDyve subscription or find out more about this option.

View options


View PDF/ePub