The new algorithm finds the most beautiful route from A to B

Beautiful citiesWhen you select parameters of your route in your GPS navigation device or app you typically have several options to choose from: the fastest, the shortest, optimal etc. That’s usually good enough when driving. Pedestrians on the other hand have typically different expectations. They would prefer the quietest or the most beautiful route. Unfortunately if they turn to any mapping app, they’ll get little help.

That could change now thanks to the work of Daniele Quercia at Yahoo Labs in Barcelona and his pals. These guys have worked out how to measure the “beauty” of specific locations within cities and then designed an algorithm that automatically chooses a route between two locations in a way that maximizes the beauty along it.

What they did was to take Google Street View images of a various parts of the center of London and put it into a website called UrbanGems.org, where they show to people two images and ask which one is more beautiful. That gives the team a crowdsourced opinion about the beauty of each location which they transform into a measurable score . They then plot each of these locations and their beauty score on a map which they use to provide directions.

UrbanGems Geoawesomeness

The tests showed that on average these routes turn out to be just 12 percent longer than the shortest routes, which makes them reasonable alternatives for a pedestrian.

Based on that promising results the team started to think how to automatize the process. They chose some five million Flickr pictures taken in the same places as their original photos and then mined the data associated with them to see what parameters correlated with beauty. The number of pictures taken of a particular scene and comments associated with positive emotions turned to be reliable indicators of a beautify of a location. 

Of course this approach is a simplification of a reality and companies like Google or Facebook could surely have much more data for reliable results. Nevertheless, this is an interesting approach that has the potential to change the experience people have in interacting with the city.

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Geography is Broad


This is the second concept of what geography is. Geography is broad. How broad do you say?

Consider this. Geography can be described as having two subfields: Human geography and physical geography.
In addition to have two subfields, geography has many branches: Physical geography, human geography, integrated geography, geomatics, and regional geography. There are also other subjects in relation to geography, not limited to, but including: urban planning and spatial planning.

Physical geography alone covers multiple subjects, such as geomorphology, meteorology, climatology, paleogeography, landscape ecology, and so much more. Physical geography deals natural processes of the earth, as an earth science.Human geography, like physical geography, covers so much material. Economic geography, urban geography, health geography, political geography, and much more.

Human geography takes a look at people, cultures, migration patterns, and it approached as a social science.Only physical and human geography have been discussed thus far, and already, volumes could possibly be written. Consider how much more there is to learn when considering the branches of geomatics, integrated geography, and regional geography. Under geomatics one learns about GIS, cartography, and surveying, and the geomatic subjects can be applied to so many places, such as flight navigation, weather, and urban planning.

And this is just the start.

Geography is very broad, and covers a multitude of subjects. It is much more than memorizing state capitals. Far more than just reading maps. It is about the applications behind it, gaining a broader sense of our world.

Read on