[OSM-talk] High Cartographic Quality Label Placement on OSM-based Map

Serge Wroclawski emacsen at gmail.com
Sun Jul 14 15:08:57 UTC 2013

On Sun, Jul 14, 2013 at 10:10 AM, Andreas Reimer
<andreas.reimer at geog.uni-heidelberg.de> wrote:
> Hi there, I am a colleage of Max's and we collaborated on his labelling
> papers. Chiming in to straighten up some potential miscommunications.

I think there's general understanding but some substantial cross
cultural differences coming out of this discussion.

I am speaking here as someone who has worked at some academic
institutions (namely NASA and NIH) where scientific research was
required to be public (due to different laws, but in both cases, the
law required that not only were the publications stored, but the
implementation of those algorithms stored as well).

>> But i would actually emphasize a more practical point: Since this is
>> meant to be scientific research one can assume you publish it to allow
>> others to independently verify your work, compare it to their own and
>> possibly improve it - this is in the very definition of scientific
>> work

> Just wanted to point out that "fairly complex algorithms" are actually not
> published the way you assume, although I totally see your point.

This is certainly an understandable position from an academic
standpoint, but this is where engineering (and the FLOSS world) and
academic clash in ideas of how information is spread.

I think that increasingly academics are trying to straddle the two
worlds and finding it hard to do so.

> Some context: map labelling is a popular subject for computational geometry
> and GIScience people. And they do not usually produce or share fully-fledged
> frameworks, but algorithms in pseudo-code with complexity analysis in Big O
> notation and/or pragmatic runtime analysis as empirical exploration with a
> sample implementation.

This may be the norm in your community, but it's certainly not the
norm in all scientific communities.

At NASA, certainly high level scientific papers were written regarding
issues of electromagnetic reflectivity of certain wavelenghs and what
that said about the composition of the chemical composition of the
atmosphere- but at the same time all the implementations of those
algorithms (the code) was required to be stored in order to allow
other researchers to replicate the results.

The implementation of an algorithm was considered part of the
algorithm. Either you could consider the source code (and compiler
version, library version, etc.) to be part and parcel of the
algorithm, since it described the actual computational work being
performed, or you could consider it simply necessary for replication
and testing.

Either way, both were required.

> The whole point of algorithms research is to move beyond implementation and
> do research, well on algorithms, instead of software libraries.

Intentionally or not, that's insulting to those people who choose to
be either creative or scientific outside of academia. Look at the work
being done by various computer scientists at large commercial
institutions such as Google and IBM who, after implementing their
work, write it up as a scientific research paper for publication.

> That Max has a very stable and functional framework is uncommon for the
> scientific community.
> And he built that framework mostly in his free time over the years to better
> test his hypotheses & results.

Yes, and we're all very happy about this, and want to share in the work.

> Yes, once the paper is accepted, the algorithm is out there in the open and
> I am sure any of us will gladly answer questions and help for anyone wanting
> to use the algorithm.

This is very good, and I'm sure I speak for everyone in mentioning
that we're glad that your academic institution is not taking the
stance that it "owns" the work, etc.

> Getting a set of tiles with new labelling for anyone
> to use is also giving back to the community already?


This is not a giving back to the community any more than declaring a
result without describing a process would be acceptable to you in an
academic context.

Max has done something great, and clearly put a great deal of time,
effort, etc. into it. We're all very happy for him. But we also see
that this work was not done in a vacuum, and the expectation of this
community is that when standing on the shoulders of giants, you also
provide a platform for others to stand on.

It sounds like you understand these arguments (at least partially), so
let's not go over the same points needlessly, but at the same time I
think it bears repeating that you are seeing various cultural biases
at work (academic vs FLOSS), that the two communities are similar in
some ways, but very different in others

- Serge

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