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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 10, 2003

UI Professor To Discuss Map Accuracy, Distortion Nov. 15

The relative accuracy of maps will be the subject of a 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 15 presentation, "Maps and Their Makers: Decidedly Deliberate Deceptions and Distortions," by Marc Armstrong, professor and chair of geography in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), in Room 40, Schaeffer Hall.

The free, public lecture and discussion session are the last in the college's fall 2003 Saturday Scholars series.

Armstrong says that while many people use maps, few understand that cartographers selectively delete and enhance features so as to make maps appear more accurate. In his talk, he plans to show how various maps affect people's understanding of the world and how computer technology will change the way people interact with maps and the geographic features they represent.

"GPS and wireless technologies have begun to revolutionize the ways in which people make and use maps," he says. "For example, our students have begun to use hand-held computers with integrated GPS receivers to collect and edit digital information that is communicated to our server using a wireless network."

Armstrong, professor and chair of the department of geography, also holds an appointment in the graduate program in applied mathematical and computational sciences and is a member of the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research. He was born and raised near the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers and attended the State University of New York at Plattsburgh graduating with a bachelor's degree in geography in 1974.

After working as a cartographic draftsman, he moved to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he worked on the Atlas of North Carolina, and completed his master's degree in geography and began to focus on the emerging field of geographic information systems (GIS). He then earned his doctorate in geography from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he continued to develop his interests in mapping and GIS.

Armstrong came to the UI in 1984. He has written more than 100 scholarly papers in the general area of geographic information science. He has also served as the North American editor of the International Journal of Geographical Information Science, as the Associate Editor of Cartography and Geographic Information Science and as an editorial board member of four other journals. His current research focuses on multi-criteria optimization using evolutionary algorithms, and on the use of computer clusters to analyze complex spatial statistical problems.

Saturday Scholars was developed by Linda Maxson, dean of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, to give members of the public a chance to hear about the latest teaching and research innovations by faculty members in the college. The sessions last about an hour, including a 20-30 minute presentation followed by time for questions. Refreshments are served. All presentations begin at 10 a.m. in Room 40 Schaeffer Hall, the southeast building on the UI Pentacrest.

Additional information is available at:

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in advance at 335-2610.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, Writer, 319-384-0009,