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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 May 18;101(20):7499-504. Epub 2004 May 10.

From The Cover: Diffusion-based method for producing density-equalizing maps.

Author information

1
Center for the Study of Complex Systems and Department of Physics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.

Abstract

Map makers have for many years searched for a way to construct cartograms, maps in which the sizes of geographic regions such as countries or provinces appear in proportion to their population or some other analogous property. Such maps are invaluable for the representation of census results, election returns, disease incidence, and many other kinds of human data. Unfortunately, to scale regions and still have them fit together, one is normally forced to distort the regions' shapes, potentially resulting in maps that are difficult to read. Many methods for making cartograms have been proposed, some of them are extremely complex, but all suffer either from this lack of readability or from other pathologies, like overlapping regions or strong dependence on the choice of coordinate axes. Here, we present a technique based on ideas borrowed from elementary physics that suffers none of these drawbacks. Our method is conceptually simple and produces useful, elegant, and easily readable maps. We illustrate the method with applications to the results of the 2000 U.S. presidential election, lung cancer cases in the State of New York, and the geographical distribution of stories appearing in the news.

PMID:
15136719
PMCID:
PMC419634
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0400280101
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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