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The PhD thesis that paved the way for GIS

Few Ph.D. theses have ever changed the world in the same world that Roger Tomlinson’s thesis has. Roger Tomlinson, widely considered as the “Father of GIS,” completed his Ph.D. entitled “Geographical Information Systems, Spatial Data Analysis and Decision Making in Government”  in 1974 at the Department of Geography, University College London. The thesis was based on his experiences gained during the development of the first Geographic Information System in the world for Canada Land Inventory.

The first thesis in GIS

The Ph.D. that paved the way for GIS

Finally, after spending the last four decades on a shelf within the Department of Geography at UCL, the thesis is now available for download here (they also OCRed the thesis, so it’s searchable like normal PDF files).

His Ph.D. thesis together with his pioneering work in creating the Canadian Geographic Information System in the early 1960’s paved the way for GIS and an entire industry that revolves around it today. Dr. Tomlinson’s work together with Dr. Dana Tomlin‘s work on Map Algebra is what makes GIS such a powerful tool. (Related: The story behind the Canadian Geographic Information System). The Ph.D. thesis might be over four decades old, but it is certainly interesting to read it even today! If you are interested, here’s the link to download the “The first thesis in GIS.”

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Because you cannot play the Game of Thrones without maps

Maps are hypnotic. They have magical powers. They explain the genetics of our natural world in a way that words cannot. Maps take us back in time. Maps shove us into the future. They kindle our imagination. They invoke awe, and envy. And if there is anything we have learned from the Season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones, it’s that maps inspire courage. Because you see, maps have this uncanny quality of making everything seem possible… even conquering the Seven Kingdoms.

Game of Thrones took a spatial twist with the first episode of its latest season. As the episode began, Cersei and Jamie Lannister were shown having a conversation in one of the castle courtyards in King’s Landing. While an artist quietly covered the entire floor with a giant painting of the map of Westeros, Cersei mapped out her strategy for the conflicted territories at her feet. Key locations were identified and troublemakers were taken stock of.

Cut to the other most powerful queen of the story, Daenerys Targaryen, who returned to Dragonstone at the end of the episode to give us another dose of cartographic high. She bypassed the throne to go straight to the war room, aka the Chamber of the Painted Table, with her right-hand man Tyrion Lannister. There, waiting for her was her own handcrafted, highly-detailed, centuries-old map of the Seven Kingdoms – the table that was carved by Aegon Targaryen after he conquered Westeros. Fans would recall Stannis using this map to plot his attacks on both King’s Landing and the North.

As a bonus, Samwell Tarly stumbled upon a map of Dragonstone which showed the location of a mine containing deposits of (gasp!) dragonglass – which, of course, is now more precious than gold. And Oldtown also appeared on the map for the first time.

So many topographical references were enough to send map lovers on Twitter in a tizzy, with some cheering the Mother of Dragons for scoring over Cersei by having a 3D map! Take a look:

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