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Geography Department > Faculty > Matthew McGranaghan

Matthew McGranaghan

Matthew McGranaghan, Associate Professor
Research Interests
: computer cartography; human-computer interaction; spatial cognition; geographic information systems, remote sensing.
Phone: (808) 956-7092
Personal website:


B.A., Philosophy and Geography, State University of New York, Albany, 1979.
M.A., Geography, State University of New York, Albany, 1981.
Ph.D., Geography, State University of New York, Buffalo, 1986. 

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Research interests 

I am interested in representational issues in cartography and GIS, including perceptual and cognitive issues in map displays and the GIS and cartographic systems which produce those displays, and technical issues in information representation in spatial databases. I have secondary interests in algorithms, techniques, and the logic of processing spatial data. 

My research over the past decade has included reaction-time studies of map cognition as well as efforts to write software to automate the interpretation of verbal descriptions of locations. Of late, I've also been learning more about computing environments than seems healthy. 

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Courses Taught

GEOG 340 Geography of North America
GEOG 366 Geography of Honolulu 
GEOG 387 Computer- Assisted Cartography 
GEOG 470 Remote Sensing
GEOG 487 Advanced Computer-Assisted Cartography
GEOG 488 Geographic Information Systems 
GEOG 695 Concepts and Theories in Geography
GEOG 696 Research Design / Methods in Geography 
GEOG 761 Research Seminar in Cartography
GEOG 762 Research Seminar in Remote Sensing

Cartography at UHM

UHM Geography offers a broad program in cartography, including remote sensing, surveying and GIS. Let me introduce myself, tell you what I look for in a graduate student, and indicate what I think I can offer a graduate student.

My teaching emphasizes the conceptual foundations of mapping technology, which have a longer "half-life&quo t; than most software. The classes start at an "advanced introductory" level and establish a strong common base upon which students can build. Regularly offered seminars examine narrower topics in greater depth, and directed reading and resear ch courses provide education tailored to your needs.

I came to Hawai`i in 1985 to teach and conduct research in GIS and computer cartography. My primary research interests are the perceptual and cognitive issues in making and using representations of space, especially experimental evaluation of map symbology and map display systems, aimed at improving them. I have secondary interests in algorithms for handling spatial data and image processing. These are the areas in which I am best able to advise students. Recent projects include: developing software to convert natural language descriptions of locations to geodetic coordinates, modeling simultaneous contrast in map displays to correct for non- linearities in human value perception, and attempting to identify characteristics of surface diagrams that correlate with the ease of comparing them.

To address such questions, students should be solidly grounded in the literature and practice of cartography. Preparation in geography, perceptual and co gnitive psychology, computer science and graphics programming are traits that I expect a student to have or to develop. Learning to use a GIS to conduct a geographic study is, in my mind, very different from earning a degree in cartography and/or GIS. D eveloping the ability and desire to formulate questions and conduct research that will improve cartography are my goals in graduate education.

The computing, library, and graphic arts resources are very good, as are our ties to cognate units in the University. The darkroom has full photomechanical capabilities. The computer lab has several unix workstations, 486 pcs and Macintosh computers. Software includes Wavefront Animator and Visualizer, pc Arc/Info, GRASS, IDRISI, MAP, Odyssey, AutoCAD, Ar cView and a number of graphics packages. The emphasis in the lab has been to provide a resource for exploration. There is no lab technician. The faculty and students perform the maintenance, management and training functions. This forces more hands-on and service oriented work than in many departments, but provides a unique opportunity to get into the nuts and bolts of the technology and to assume responsibility. It is an excellent situation for motivated students. If you are interested in learning more, call me at 808-956-8465.


Refereed Publications

1993 McGranaghan, M., "A Cartographic View of Data Quality Visualization", Cartographica, 30(2 & 3), pp. 8-19. 

1989 McGranaghan, M., "Ordering Choropleth Map Symbols: The Effect of Background", The American Cartographer, 16(4), pp. 279-285. 

1988 Nullet, D., and McGranaghan, M., Rainfall Enhancement Over the Hawaiian Islands", Journal of Climate, August 1988, pp.837-839. 

Mark, D.M., and McGranaghan, M., "Map Use and Map Alternatives: An Experiment in an Intraurban Environment", Canadian Geographer, 1988, 32(1). 

1987 Mark, D.M., Gould, M.D. and McGranaghan, M., "Computerized Navigation Assistance for Drivers", The Professional Geographer, 1987, 39(2), pp. 215-220. 

McGranaghan, M., Mark, D.M. and Gould, M., 1987, "Automated Provision of Navigation Assistance to Drivers", American Cartographer, 14(2) pp. 121-138. 

1985 McGranaghan, M., 1985, "Pattern, Process and a Geographic Language", Ontario Geographer, no. 25, pp. 15-28.

Book Chapters
1998.  "Urbanization", with Jon Goss, in The Atlas of Hawaii, 3rd ed. 

1996 "Urbanization in Hawaii", with Jon Goss, in Joseph Morgan, Geography of Hawaii, Bess Press, 1996. "An Experiment with Choropleth Maps on Monochromatic LCD Pannels", in Clifford Wood and Peter Kellor (editors), Cartographic Design and Research

1994 "Schema and Object Matching as a Basis for Interpreting Textual Specifications of Geographical Locations", in D. M. Mark and A. U. Frank, (editors), Cognitive and Lingusitic Aspects of Geographic Space, Kluwer. 

1993 "Artificial Intelligence in Extracting and Refining Locality Information", in Renaud Fortuner (editor), Advances in Computer Methods for Systematic Biology: Artificial Intelligence, Databases, Computer Vision, Johns Hopkins University Press.