Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Department of Integrated Science and Technology


Helmut Kraenzle

David Bernstein

Zachary Bortolot


One metric that may be useful to geographers, especially in the study of natural features, such as coastlines or animal habitats, is the fractal dimension. This statistic measures the complexity of a feature, and can help researchers to predict patterns in data or to improve existing datasets. The goal of this project was to create an application that graphically calculates the fractal dimension of geographic features, and which may be added to the existing set of technological tools used by geographers. The method chosen for this algorithm to graphically calculate the fractal dimension was to perform a functional box count. This involves overlaying a grid on the feature being examined and counting the number of cells that intersect the shape. An object-oriented Python program was designed and developed to represent geographic features in a vector format, and to recursively calculate the fractal dimension. The design includes classes representing polygon and linear curve features, as well as the points and line segments which make up these features. The algorithm for calculating the fractal dimension has been tested for accuracy by assessing its output using fractals with known and documented fractal dimensions. It has then been applied to different geographic features to measure the dimension as an indicator of various measures of interest to geographers.



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