GeomDiff - An Algorithm for Differential Geospatial Vector Data Comparison
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonOpen Geospatial Data, Software and Standards. 2020, 5, 3 10.1186/s40965-020-00076-4
Diffs, a concept known from source code version control systems such as git, is interesting for geospatial, event-based workflows. We investigate how the native mathematical structure of vector geometries can be utilized in order to create a diffing algorithm tailored to geospatial vector data. Diffing algorithms are a well-researched area which dates to the 1970ies; however, we find that geospatial diffing operations tends to be carried out using generic algorithms combined with a pre- and post-processing step. We created GeomDiff, an algorithm and storage format tailored to geospatial vector data. The creation time, apply/undo time, and patch size of GeomDiff was compared to three other generic algorithms by running an online experiment using 2.5 million real-world geometry pairs from OpenStreetMap. We found that the GeomDiff algorithm performs better than or on-par with the alternatives on point-geometries, and complex geometries with a small (< 500) vertex count. We argue that there are both computation time and storage space improvements to be gained by using a tailored diffing algorithm for geospatial vector data. These promising first results encourages further refinement of the algorithm in order to handle complex geometries efficiently as well.