“The Cognition of Space”

Prof. Stephen C. Hirtle

School of Information Sciences
University of Pittsburgh

Thursday May 7, 2015, Buchanan 1930, 3:30–4:45 pm

Followed by reception at the Center for Spatial Studies, 3512 Phelps Hall


UCSB_Golledge_Lecture_2015Abstract. The past 30 years of research on spatial cognition has paralleled 30 years of development of human-centric geospatial tools.  This talk will review and categorize research findings on spatial cognition and delineate how those principles may be, in some cases, assisted by technological tools and, in other cases, impaired by technology.  It begins by reviewing what is known about how humans process spatial concepts, which draws upon the breadth and depth of Reginald Golledge’s formative research in this area.  From this foundation, the talk moves on to discuss how interfaces can be improved to take advantage to those capabilities. Special attention is given to a variety of innovative geographical platforms that provide users with an intuitive understanding and support the further acquisition of spatial knowledge. The talk concludes with a discussion of the number of outstanding issues, including the changing nature of maps as a primary spatial interface and a look at the future of user-centered spatial information systems.

Bio. Stephen C. Hirtle is Professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, with joint appointments in the Department of Psychology and in the Intelligent Systems Program. He directs the Spatial Information Research Group at the University of Pittsburgh, which conducts research on the structure of cognitive maps, navigation in real and virtual spaces, information visualization, and computational models for spatial cognition. He received a B.A. from the Grinnell College in mathematics and psychology in 1976 and a Ph.D. from University of Michigan in Mathematical Psychology in 1982. He was the founding co-editor of Spatial Cognition and Computation and past-president of the Classification Society of North America. Hirtle’s research interests center on spatial information theory with a focus on understanding how spatial concepts are represented, accessed, and utilized in a variety of spatial tasks, such as wayfinding. Hirtle has had visiting appointments in Geoinformatics at the University of Augsburg, Geoinformation at the Vienna University of Technology, Computer Science at Molde University College in Norway, and the Artificial Intelligence Research Group at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. He hosted the Third International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT’97), in the Laurel Highlands, outside of Pittsburgh, PA, in October 1997. He also has served on the Board of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science and numerous review panels for 
the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the FWF (Austria).