As the coding of a dendritic river system can be used to represent the stream order and spatial-structure of a river network, it is always used in river selection, which is a key step in topographic map generalization. There are two categories of conventional hydrological coding systems, one is the top-down approach, and the other is the bottom-up approach. However, the former does not accurately reflect the hierarchies of a dendritic river network, which is produced by catchment relationships, and it is not appropriate for the stream selection of river networks with uniform distributions of tributaries. The latter cannot directly indicate the subtree depth of a stream, and it is not favorable to stream selection of river systems that have topologically deep structures. Therefore, a selection method for dendritic river networks based on hybrid coding is proposed in this paper. First, the dendritic river network is coded through classical top-down Horton coding. Second, directed topology trees are constructed to organize the river network data, and stroke connections are calculated to code the river network in the bottom-up approach. Third, the river network is marked through hybrid usage of the top-down approach and bottom-up approach, and based on the spatial characteristics of the river network, the river network is classified into three kinds of subtrees: deep branch, shallow branch and modest branch. Then, appropriate coding is assigned automatically to different subtrees to achieve river selection. Finally, actual topographic map data of a river system in a region of Hubei Province are used to comparatively validate the hybrid coding system against two existing isolated coding systems. The experimental results demonstrate that the hybrid coding method is very effective for river network selection, not only in highlighting hierarchies formed by catchment relationships but also in the uniform distribution of tributaries.
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