Table of Contents
Map Main Page
What are Maps?
Map History
Math Topics
Math Problems
Web Resources
Careers
Teachers' Notes
References
Other Math Lessons

"The uses of maps in human communication continually increase and diversify, reflecting the range of interests, knowledge, and aspirations."
John Noble Wilford from The Mapmakers

Mathematics of Cartography

What are Maps?



U.S. Geological
Survey (USGS)

Definition : Map- A set of points, lines, and areas all defined both by position with reference to a coordinate system and by their non-spatial attributes.

Maps are the world reduced to points, lines, and areas, using a variety of visual resources: size, shape, value, texture or pattern, color, orientation, and shape. A thin line may mean something different from a thick one, and similarly, red lines from blue ones.


National
Geographic
Lessons

How do Maps represent reality?

A photograph shows all objects in its view; a map is an abstraction of reality. The cartographer selects only the information that is essential to fulfill the purpose of the map, and that is suitable for its scale. Maps use symbols such as points, lines, area patterns and colors to convey information.


The Geographer's
Craft Project

How are Maps used?

  1. To locate places on the surface of the earth,
  2. To show patterns of distribution, and
  3. To discover relationships between different phenomena by analyzing map information.

Examples of Different Uses of Maps

Earthquake Hazard Map Notice the use of color to indicate intensity.
Location: Position on the Earth's Surface

Navigational Tools- Old and New

Just as maps were created to enable global navigation, maps are used frequently on the Web as a navigational device. See the Virtual Tourist World Map- a geographic directory of all the WWW servers in the world.

Email any comments to lanius@math.rice.edu
Copyright 1996-2003 Cynthia Lanius


URL http://math.rice.edu/~lanius/pres/map/mapdef.html
Table of Contents
Map Main Page
What are Maps?
Map History
Math Topics
Math Problems
Web Resources
Careers
Teachers' Notes
References
Other Math Lessons