Max J. Egenhofer

Max Egenhofer

Dr. Max Egenhofer has made numerous, highly significant research contributions to geographic information science. Many of his research results on spatial relations and the spatial query languages are commonplace in commercial geographic information systems and have been embedded as key ingredients in international standards. In these standards, the topological relations that derive from his 9-intersection model are often referred to as the "Egenhofer relations." His most prominent contribution is the 9-intersection, a model for binary topological relations. The IJGIS article "Point-Set Topological Spatial Relations" (Egenhofer and Franzosa 1990) has been for many years the most frequently cited article published in the flagship outlet of the discipline. The formal model has led to extensive follow-up work, both by Egenhofer's research group as well as countless extensions worldwide. In collaboration with David Mark, Max Egenhofer analyzed the linkage between the relations' formal model and natural-language spatial predicates.

A second theme of Dr. Egenhofer's research is the design of spatial query languages. His query-language research has always been at the forefront of technology, often laying the foundation for what later became the common way of interacting with spatial databases and GISs. He designed one of the first comprehensive SQL extensions for spatial databases and his Geographer's Desktop brought a new direct-manipulation perspective to GIS interactions at a time when most user interfaces relied primarily on menus and dialog boxes. With Spatial-Query-by-Sketch he developed in the 1990s spatial user interfaces that are now popular with iPads. He also led a decade ago the development of the iPointer, a natural gesture-based device for in-situ querying about geographic space at a time when smart phones were not yet ubiquitous.

Professor Egenhofer made three important visionary contributions: the 1995 Naive Geography manifesto (co-authored with David Mark), the concept of ontology-driven GIS (1999) at a time when ontologies were an esoteric topic, and the Geospatial Semantic Web (2002). The Naive Geography paper is the most frequently cited contribution of all COSIT papers published biennially since 1993, the ontology-driven GIS paper (2002) is the most frequently cited article published in Transactions in GIS, and his paper on the Semantic Geospatial Web (2002) is the most frequently cited paper in the ACM GIS conference series.

Dr. Egenhofer's service to the profession and the research community ranges from the areas of geographic information science to information science, computer science, and geography. In 2000, together with David Mark and Mike Goodchild, he initiated the GIScience conference series, which has become a most successful event that highlights geographic information science research results. He served three times as Program Co-Chair of GIScience, was twice chair of the Symposium on Large Spatial Databases (1995 and 2005), program co-chair of COSIT (2011), and program chair of ACM GIS (1994). As chair of the UCGIS Research Projects Committee he managed multiple grant competitions that brought Federal resources to UCGIS member institutions.

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