Spatial data are often observed on polygon entities with defined boundaries. The polygon boundaries are defined by the researcher in some fields of study, may be arbitrary in others and may be administrative boundaries created for very different purposes in others again. The observed data are frequently aggregations within the boundaries, such as population counts. The areal entities may themselves constitute the units of observation, for example when studying local government behaviour where decisions are taken at the level of the entity, for example setting local tax rates. By and large, though, areal entities are aggregates, bins, used to tally measurements, like voting results at polling stations. Very often, the areal entities are an exhaustive tessellation of the study area, leaving no part of the total area unassigned to an entity. Of course, areal entities may be made up of multiple geometrical entities, such as islands belonging to the same county; they may also surround other areal entities completely, and may contain holes, like lakes.
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- Areal Data and Spatial Autocorrelation
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