An Economic Geography of the United States

In a paper published in PLOS One, Garrett Dash Nelson and Alasdair Rae explore whether megaregions—i.e., a region centred on a major metropolitan area—can be determined algorithmically, using commuter flow data. In the end they conclude that “any division of space into unit areas will have to take into account a ‘common sense’ interpretation of the validity and cohesion of the regions resulting from an algorithmic approach. For this reason, the visual heuristic method coupled with the algorithmic method offers a good combination of human interpretation and statistical precision.” In the process, they’ve generated a series of maps that are fascinating on several levels, including a final map of megaregions that combines algorithmic results with visual heuristics (i.e., human judgment). [Atlas Obscura]

Author: Jonathan Crowe

Jonathan Crowe blogs about maps at The Map Room. His nonfiction has been published by AE, The New York Review of Science Fiction, the Ottawa Citizen and Tor.com. His sf fanzine, Ecdysis, was a two-time Aurora Award finalist.