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Development of an expert system for cartographic design education

, University of Kansas, United States

University of Kansas . Awarded


This dissertation describes the development of SMARTcart: a simple, intelligent learning tool for cartographic design education. Cartographic education has become software driven, with an emphasis on learning how to use software applications, at the expense of learning how to apply cartographic design principles. This has resulted in poorly-designed maps created by people with insufficient knowledge of cartographic design. SMARTcart is a tool that allows students to apply concepts of cartographic design, without being distracted by complex, “design-ignorant” software applications that are commonly used to produce maps. SMARTcart is easy to use, has virtually no default options for the inexperienced cartographer to fall prey to, and possesses knowledge of a limited set of cartographic design principles.

SMARTcart is a forward-chaining expert system that contains a knowledge base of sixty-five rules—rules that were derived from the formalization, and subsequent codification, of cartographic design. This formalization is presented through discussions of map elements, typography, and the cartographic design process. SMARTcart allows the user to create simple thematic maps, and evaluates the appropriateness of the user's design decisions by comparing them with rules in the knowledge base. It provides the user with real-time scores that indicate the “quality” of the map being created. SMARTcart's application structure is presented through discussions of its user interface, methods for the creation and manipulation of map elements, and its knowledge base and inference engines.

In order to ensure that SMARTcart is a useful learning tool, it has been qualitatively evaluated using principles of usability engineering. Individual and focus group interviews were performed with colleagues, and more important, with typical users of SMARTcart: college students with little experience in cartographic design. The opinions and suggestions voiced by interview participants yielded valuable information that was used to improve SMARTcart through incremental software updates. Interview participants confirmed that SMARTcart has the potential to be a useful tool for cartographic design education: it is easy to use, influences users to make active design decisions, and is engaging. SMARTcart 1.0 is a fully functional, “proof-of-concept” software application that can introduce students to cartographic design in an easy to use, hands-on environment.


Howard, H.H. Development of an expert system for cartographic design education. Ph.D. thesis, University of Kansas. Retrieved November 28, 2020 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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