ThinkSpatial: George Baryannis


On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, the UCSB forum on spatial thinking presents

Qualitative Spatial Reasoning Using Answer Set Programming


George Baryannis

Department of Computer Science
University of Huddersfield, UK

11:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 21, 2020 | Zoom meeting room:


Spatial (and temporal) information is often expressed using qualitative terms such as natural language expressions instead of coordinates; reasoning over such terms has several practical applications, such as naval traffic monitoring, warehouse process optimization, and robot manipulation. Well over 40 qualitative calculi have been proposed so far, including Allen’s interval algebra and the Region Connection Calculus. Reasoning with such calculi has been the focus of extensive research within the wider AI community, with a number of specialized reasoning tools developed. One barrier to the wide adoption of these tools is that only qualitative reasoning is supported natively when real-world problems most often require a combination of qualitative and other forms of reasoning.

I will discuss research to overcome this barrier (conducted at the University of Huddersfield, UK, and the University of Calabria, Italy), focusing on using Answer Set Programming (ASP) as a unified formalism to tackle problems that require qualitative reasoning in addition to non-qualitative reasoning. ASP is a logic-based knowledge representation and reasoning approach that includes a rich but simple modeling language and is capable of handling search problems of high complexity. Research is motivated by two case studies: reasoning about the relations among large numbers of trajectories and determining optimal coverage of telecommunication antennas.

George Baryannis is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Huddersfield, UK. He received his Dipl.Eng. in Electronic and Computer Engineering from the Technical University of Crete, Greece, and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Crete, Greece. His teaching and research interests lie within Artificial Intelligence, mainly focusing on knowledge representation and reasoning, machine learning, and interpretability, as well as applications in supply chain risk management, smart homes, and service-oriented computing.




The objectives of the ThinkSpatial presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.

Please contact Emmanuel Papadakis ( to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking.

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ThinkSpatial: Claudio Fogu


On Tuesday, March 10 June 9, 2020, The UCSB brown-bag forum on spatial thinking presents

The Fishing Net and the Spider Web—

Making Italians Making Southerners


Claudio Fogu

Department of French and Italian
University of California, Santa Barbara

12:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 10 June 9, 2020 | 3512 Phelps Hall (map)



This talk will discuss the network-theory approach of Grad Malkin’s study of the Archaic Mediterranean and its extension to the history of the modern Mediterranean. Fogu will focus in particular on the role played by the Italian peninsula, coastal communities, and islands in the oscillation among distributed, centralized, and decentralized patterns of connectivity in the Mediterranean.


Claudio Fogu moved to Los Angeles in 1983 to study film at UCLA, and later pursued a Ph.D. in History. He taught at Ohio State University and then at USC. Since moving to UCSB in 2005 he has been an Associate Professor of Italian Studies and teaches courses on Italian cultural history and memory, with an emphasis on film and visual culture. He is author of multiple books and is current President of the California Chapters of the American Association of University Professors (CA-AAUP), President of the UC Santa Barbara Faculty Association (UCSB), and Vice-President for External Affairs of the Consortium of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA).


The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.

Please contact Werner Kuhn ( to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking.

Follow spatial@ucsb on Twitter | Google+ | Google Calendar

Semantic Technology for Geographic Question Answering (GIScience 2021)

Workshop Overview

Please occasionally check back for updates and announcements.

geoQAThis half-day workshop at GIScience 2021 is meant to attract participants with a research interest in geographic question-answering (geoQA). This workshop focuses on geoQA both from a theoretical and a practical hands-on perspective. It is a unique opportunity to bring together GIScientists interested in diverse aspects of the problem at the early stages in the study of human spatial/place-based question-answering behaviour and QA systems.

This workshop will enable participants to demonstrate and compare early systems, corpora and approaches, and identify suitable directions for future research, including the collection of gold-standard corpora, task and scale specific QA system design (e.g. in-vehicle spatial interaction, instruction QA, factoid GeoQA). The workshop will enable the exchange of geoQA technology and ideas, as well as strive to identify the main challenges in geoQA. Novel challenges include spatial question parsers and corresponding grammars, the establishment of corpora and gold standards, the identification of spatial concepts in questions, and the special role that the geospatial Semantic Web and geo-analytical workflows play in geoQA.

Event Organizers and Affiliations

Martin TomkoInfrastructure Engineering, University of Melbourne, AU
Simon ScheiderDepartment of Human Geography and Planning, Utrecht University, NL
Manolis KoubarakisDepartment of Informatics and Telecommunications, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, GR
Sara LafiaDepartment of Geography, University of California Santa Barbara, US

For questions, please contact: Sara Lafia (


Question-answering (QA) is a form of verbal, dialogue-based interaction with information gaining ground in commercial services, such as smart assistants. It is enabling the most natural interaction with information thus far limited to human-to-human interaction – speech. It is particularly important in situations where the user is unable to operate via tactile interfaces, such as when driving, manipulating objects, or when the user is sight-impaired. Research on the different technical and conceptual challenges of QA has surged in information science, including phrase analysis, phrase mappings to entities in a database, entity disambiguation, and the construction of formal queries from questions. Question-answering approaches include knowledge-based (KB QA) and document-based question answering (DB QA). The former exploits reasoning on structured knowledge bases to infer factoid answers, e.g., from linked data stores. The latter extracts answers from text documents.

Since Geography and spatial relationships are an important part of numerous human-asked questions, geographic question answering (geoQA) has recently become an area of intensive research interest, both from a document as well as a knowledge centric view. This includes foundational research on the form and concepts of spatial questions and answers, geographic question corpora, geoQA interfaces, dialogue and information relevance related to specific tasks (incl. Wayfinding instructions), as well as research in enabling technology, including geographic query extensions over knowledge graphs and geo-analytical workflow composition.

Related Work


We welcome contributions in the following two forms:

  1. Position papers. Papers should be in pdf format, using the GIScience article template. They should be no longer than 2 pages (including references), and will be presented at the workshop in the form of a 5-minute lightning talk in the first half of the day.
  2. Corpus datasets or QA tools. Both may be presented and tested in the hands-on/tutorial session in the second half of the day.

Submissions may be about (but are not limited to) the following topics:

  • geoQA tasks and spatial question types
  • Conceptual foundations of geoQA
  • geoQA question corpora and answer datasets
  • geoQA metrics and validation approaches
  • Knowledge systems and ontologies for geoQA
  • Document datasets and retrieval systems for geoQA
  • Machine learning for geoQA
  • Phrase analysis, grammars and NLP for geoQA
  • Entity disambiguation and georeferencing for geoQA
  • Reasoners and algorithms for geoQA
  • What makes geoQA special, as compared to QA?
  • Comparison of geoQA approaches and systems

Workshop contributions will be submitted via EasyChair (further details to come).

Important Dates

  • Workshop contributions due: TBD (AoE, i.e., UTC-12)
  • Notification of acceptance: TBD
  • Early-bird registration ends: July 31, 2020
  • Camera-ready papers due: TBD
  • Workshop date: TBD (announcement pending conference rescheduling)

Schedule (tentative)

Half-day morning session (9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.):

  • Introduction (9:00-9:10 a.m.)
  • Keynote: Questions in information system design and discussion (9:10–9:30 a.m.)
  • Demos (9:30–10:15 a.m.)
  • Coffee break (10:15–10:45 a.m.)
  • Lightning talks: 3 minutes each, based on position papers (10:45–11:30 a.m.)
  • Breakout groups: geoQA challenges – vocabularies, architectures, corpora (11:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m.)
  • Plenum discussion (12:15–1:00 p.m.)
  • Lunch (1:00–2:00 p.m.)

[Canceled] Spatial Tech Lunch: Roland Knapp

Canceled due to COVID19 outbreak. Any updates will be posted here.


On Wednesday, March 11, from 12:00–1:00 pm please join us for the next Spatial Technology Lunch in the Center for Spatial Studies (Phelps Hall 3512). This semi-regular series, hosted by spatial@ucsb, aims to promote discussion and interaction within the university’s spatial technology community. Please RSVP here by Saturday, March 7. Sandwiches and drinks will be provided.

Spread of a virulent amphibian pathogen across the Sierra Nevada

Dr. Roland Knapp


Abstract: The global emergence of the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium
dendrobatidis: “Bd”) has caused the extinction of at least 90 frog species and the decline of
hundreds more. This impact has been called the most spectacular loss of vertebrate
biodiversity due to disease in recorded history. Bd is believed to have originated in Asia, but is
now distributed worldwide due to global commerce. In California’s Sierra Nevada mountains,
Bd emerged in the 1960s and subsequently spread across the range, causing precipitous
declines of the once-common mountain yellow-legged frog and its eventual listing under the
U.S. Endangered Species Act. Describing this spread, including identifying factors associated
with its arrival in frog populations, would allow better prediction of future spread and aid in the
identification of possible vectors. In this presentation, I will provide details on the patterns of
Bd spread in the Sierra Nevada and solicit input on how these data could best be analyzed.

Roland Knapp is a research biologist at the University of California Sierra Nevada
Aquatic Research Laboratory. His research interests include the population and conservation
biology of endangered mountain yellow-legged frogs in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains,
and the community ecology of montane lake ecosystems. The landscape-scale surveys of
aquatic habitats in the southern Sierra Nevada (7,000+ lakes and ponds) that he led form the
basis for ongoing amphibian and lake recovery efforts in Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and
Yosemite National Parks, and beyond. His current research focuses on the recovery of
mountain yellow-legged frogs in the presence of the recently-emerged amphibian chytrid
fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis).


Have any questions for Dr. Knapp before or after the discussion? Give him a shout at

ThinkSpatial: Ambuj Singh

On Tuesday, March 3, 2020, The UCSB brown-bag forum on spatial thinking presents

Inferring Network Structure and Flows using Partial Observations

Ambuj Singh

University of California Santa Barbara

12:00 p.m. Tuesday, January 21, 2020 | 3512 Phelps Hall (map)



Predicting network structure and flows on edges is a precondition to effective planning and disaster response in critical infrastructure networks. I will summarize some ideas inspired by network science, physical modeling, and machine learning to determine this information from incomplete observations. Using both physical domain-specific and data-driven approaches, these algorithms address diverse problems including: the reconstruction of network topology and parameters, the estimation of network flows, the optimal selection and scheduling of multiple types of sensors, and the modeling of interdependencies in multilayer networks. The overall goal is to develop a rigorous theory for solving the inverse problem of edge and flow determination from observations of critical infrastructure networks.


Ambuj Singh is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with part-time appointments in the Biomolecular Science and Engineering Program and the Technology Management Program. He received a B.Tech. degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests are broadly in the areas of network science, machine learning, social networks, and bioinformatics. He has published 200 technical papers over his career. He has led a number of multidisciplinary projects including UCSB’s Information Network Academic Research Center funded by the Army, Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Research and Training (IGERT) program on Network Science funded by the NSF, and the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) on Network Science of Teams ( funded by the U.S. Army. He has graduated approximately 50 Ph.D., M.S., and postdoctoral students over his career, including 26 Ph.D. students.

The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.

Please contact Werner Kuhn ( to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking.

Follow spatial@ucsb on Twitter | Google+ | Google Calendar

Brownbags 2018-2019


The UCSB Brownbag Forum on Spatial Thinking

Informal noon-time presentations that feature theories, concepts, tools, and applications for spatial thinking across disciplines, including the natural and the social sciences, as well as the humanities. Presentations will take place at the Center for Spatial Studies, Phelps 3512, 12:00–1:00 pm.

Schedule 2018–2019

March 12, 2018Linda Adler-Kassner
University of California: Santa Barbara

Spatial Thinking as a Heuristic: Shaping Learning about Teaching
March 5, 2019Grant McKenzie
McGill University

Scooter-pocalypse: The When, Where, and Why of Scooter-sharing Services
December 11, 2018Wolfgang Maaß
Saarland University

Tapping into the Human Data Space: Predicting the Treatment Success of Obese Children
November 13, 2018Markus Hoffmann

Quantum Computing @Google
October 23, 2018Elisabete Silva
LISA Lab, University of Cambridge
Cambridge, UK

Coming Home to the Land of Dynamic Spatial Analysis and Simulation:
Adaptive Planning Policy and Practice in a Seamless and Fast-Moving Digital World
October 2, 2018Qinghua Ding
Department of Geography
University of California, Santa Barbara

Recent Slow Melt of Arctic Summer Sea Ice caused by Tropical SST Changes

ThinkSpatial: Anna Trugman

On Tuesday, October 6, 2020, The UCSB forum on spatial thinking presents

The Geography of Forest Hydraulic Trait Compositions: Observed Patterns, underlying Mechanisms, and Future Implications


Anna Trugman

Department of Geography

University of California Santa Barbara

11:30 a.m. Tuesday, October 6, 2020 | Zoom link*


Tree hydraulic traits determine plant water use and tree vulnerability to drought stress, thereby affecting forest productivity and the movement of water between the land surface and the atmosphere. Here, I leverage an extensive trait database and a long-term continental forest plot network to map changes in community trait distributions and quantify “trait velocities” (the rate of change in community-weighted traits) for different regions and different forest types across the U.S. from 2000 to the present. I find evidence for shifts towards communities with more drought-tolerant traits driven by tree mortality. I then review my ongoing work looking at the extent to which community trait compositional changes may buffer forest productivity and water fluxes in the near term from the effects of climate change.


Anna Trugman  is an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department. Her lab studies how changes in climate and water availability affect ecosystem diversity, productivity, and resilience across large spatial scales. Her research approach integrates field measurements with numerical ecosystem models to gain new insight into the biological processes affecting climate-vegetation interactions. Trugman received her Ph.D. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from Princeton University in 2017 and her B.S. in Geological and Environmental Science from Stanford University in 2011. From 2017–2019 Trugman was a USDA NIFA Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Utah.

The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.

* Please contact Karen Doehner, or Emmanuel Papadakis, to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking. If you are participating from outside the UCSB community, please also ask for access credentials.

Follow spatial@ucsb on Twitter | Google+ | Google Calendar

Spatial Data Science Hangouts

For a variety of (often historic) reasons, our research community has split itself into subfields such as geographic information science, geo-informatics, spatial cognition, transportation studies, spatial statistics, remote sensing, cartography, and so forth. Each of these sub-communities comes with its own journals, conferences, writing styles, accepted terminology, funding agencies, datasets, and core topics.

Unfortunately, the interaction across these communities is spotty at best. A few years ago, we showed [1] that even within the geographic information science and geo-informatics communities, the fragmentation is so high that only four authors in total had full papers at all four main conferences. The risk of such fragmentation is that each of these sub-communities may be too small to survive as an academic discipline in the long term.

Leaving the data science hype aside, spatial data science may be an important chance to establish an overarching, unifying community of researchers interested in scientific aspects of representing, publishing, retrieving, and integrating spatial data that is strong enough to make a long-term impact.

To explore this idea, the spatial center invites all students interested in spatial data science to a casual hangout and lunch.


[1] Table 1: