Map generalization utilizes transformation operations to derive smaller-scale maps from larger-scale maps, and is a key procedure for the modelling and understanding of geographic space. Studies to date have largely applied a fixed tolerance to aggregate clustered buildings into a single object, resulting in the loss of details that meet cartographic constraints and may be of importance for users. This study aims to develop a method that amalgamates clustered buildings gradually without significant modification of geometry, while preserving the map details as much as possible under cartographic constraints. The amalgamation process consists of three key steps. First, individual buildings are grouped into distinct clusters by using the graph-based spatial clustering application with random forest (GSCARF) method. Second, building clusters are decomposed into scaling subgroups according to homogeneity with regard to the mean distance of subgroups. Thus, hierarchies of building clusters can be derived based on scaling subgroups. Finally, an amalgamation operation is progressively performed from the bottom-level subgroups to the top-level subgroups using the maximum distance of each subgroup as the amalgamating tolerance instead of using a fixed tolerance. As a consequence of this step, generalized intermediate scaling results are available, which can form the multi-scale representation of buildings. The experimental results show that the proposed method can generate amalgams with correct details, statistical area balance and orthogonal shape while satisfying cartographic constraints (e.g., minimum distance and minimum area).
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