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Beyond objects in space-time: Towards a movement analysis framework with ‘How’ and ‘Why’ elements

Saeed Rahimi, Antoni B Moore, Peter A Whigham


Current spatiotemporal data has facilitated movement studies to shift objectives from descriptive models to explanations of the underlying causes of movement. From both a practical and theoretical standpoint, progress in developing approaches for these explanations should be founded on a conceptual model. This paper presents such a model in which three conceptual levels of abstraction are proposed to frame an agent-based representation of movement decision-making processes: ‘attribute,’ ‘object,’ and ‘autonomous agent’. These in combination with three temporal, spatial, and spatiotemporal general forms of observations distinguish nine (3x3) representation typologies of movement data within the agent framework. Thirdly, there are three levels of cognitive reasoning: ‘association,’ ‘intervention,’ and ‘counterfactual.’ This makes for 27 possible types of operation embedded in a conceptual cube with level of abstraction, (space-time) type of observation and degree of cognitive reasoning forming the three axes. The conceptual model is an arena where movement queries and their relevant objectives takes place. Such a well-established platform can accommodate different tools and techniques to drive causal inference in movement studies. Future work is proposed in light of the model for adopting causal thinking in computational movement analysis.

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