Spatial Databases as Models of Reality
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The real world is too complex for our immediate and direct understanding. We create “models” of reality that are intended to have some similarity with selected aspects of the real world. Databases are created from these “models” as a fundamental step in coming to know the nature and status of that reality. A Spatial Database is a collection of spatially referenced data that acts as a model of reality. A database is a model of reality in the sense that the database represents a selected set or approximation of phenomena. These selected phenomena are deemed important enough to represent in digital form. The digital representation might be for some past, present or future time period (or contain some combination of several time periods in an organized fashion).
Missouri GIS Conference, 1999