This course is an advanced level computer science elective in the areas of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The course addresses spatial databases, in general, and focuses on their applications in GIS, in particular.

While traditional information systems deal with objects that are of numeric or alphanumeric data types, a wide set of applications deal with objects that have spatial extent (e.g., points, lines and polygons) or that are geographic in nature (i.e., representable on a map). "Are spatial data types special?" YES and NO! This course addresses how to represent, store, index, and process spatial objects and focuses on their application in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

With the growing interest in spatial databases (e.g., Microsoft SQL Server Spatial Library, IBM Spatial Solutions, Oracle Spatial ), with the ability to access a wealth of digitized maps  (e.g., Google maps, Bing maps, Navteq), with the availability of rich Geographic Information Systems (e.g., ESRI ArcGis), and with the advances in GPS devices (e.g., Garmin, TomTom) and smart phones(e.g., iPhones, Androids, and Windows Phones), geospatial data management and location based services have been crucial to industry at all scales.

 This course provides a good stretch to the students in the GIS field starting from theoretical basic concepts and ramping up quickly to provide a hands-on experience with various commercial GIS systems. The course is intended to motivate the next generation of geospatial researchers and, meanwhile, is geared up to plant the seed of an engineer who leads a career in Geographic Information Systems.

If you want to know what other GIS students have done in their course projects, please visit:



We also recommend that all students have prior experience with programming languages such as C/C++/C#/Java. Students with no programming experience should not take this course.


The links to readings will be made available during the term. We will use a set of research papers. Your mentors or instructor may assign specific readings to individual students. We will also cover topics in the following textbook:
“Spatial Databases: With Application to GIS (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Data Management Systems) by Philippe Rigaux, Michel Scholl, and Agnes Voisard (Jun 1, 2001)”