An immediate problem in approaching GIS (Geographic Information Systems) consists in giving a sufficiently agreed definition of what GIS actually are. For present purposes it seems reasonable to consider GIS as being characterized by a twofold nature. On the one hand, GIS consist of a
used for certain purposes. From this perspective, the crucial issues in GIS research amount to
problems, both on the hardware and software level. On the other hand, however, GIS research is increasingly more focussed on
issues concerning the representation of geographic information. According to the latter point of view GIS problems include, at the very least, issues of
knowledge representation and reasoning
. In this chapter we investigate some of the consequences deriving from approaching GIS from the latter point of view. In particular, we will be insisting on the fact that its s‘conceptual side’, so to speak, commits GIS research to achieving
which happen to be closely related to some of those pursued in Artificial Intelligence (AI) research.
In doing so, we adopt a perspective according to which GIS are essentially construed as artificial intelligent agents reasoning about a certain classes of natural environments.