About Invalid, Valid and Clean Polygons

  • Peter van Oosterom
  • Wilko Quak
  • Theo Tijssen


Spatial models are often based on polygons both in 2D and 3D. Many Geo-ICT products support spatial data types, such as the polygon, based on the OpenGIS ‘simple Features Specification’. OpenGIS and ISO have agreed to harmonize their specifications and standards. In this paper we discuss the relevant aspects related to polygons in these standards and compare several implementations. A quite exhaustive set of test polygons (with holes) has been developed. The test results reveal significant differences in the implementations, which causes interoperability problems. Part of these differences can be explained by different interpretations (definitions) of the OpenGIS and ISO standards (do not have an equal polygon definition). Another part of these differences is due to typical implementation issues, such as alternative methods for handling tolerances. Based on these experiences we propose an unambiguous definition for polygons, which makes polygons again the stable foundation it is supposed to be in spatial modelling and analysis. Valid polygons are well defined, but as they may still cause problems during data transfer, also the concept of (valid) clean polygons is defined.


Outer Ring Simple Polygon Interior Boundary Tolerance Processing Separate Ring 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter van Oosterom
    • 1
  • Wilko Quak
    • 1
  • Theo Tijssen
    • 1
  1. 1.Delft University of Technology, OTB, section GIS technologyDelftThe Netherlands

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