Spatial ensemble learning for heterogeneous geographic data with class ambiguity

Zhe Jiang, Arpan Man Sainju, Yan Li, Shashi Shekhar, Joseph Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Class ambiguity refers to the phenomenonwhereby similar features correspond to different classes at different locations. Given heterogeneous geographic data with class ambiguity, the spatial ensemble learning (SEL) problem aims to find a decomposition of the geographic area into disjoint zones such that class ambiguity is minimized and a local classifier can be learned in each zone. The problem is important for applications such as land cover mapping from heterogeneous earth observation data with spectral confusion. However, the problem is challenging due to its high computational cost. Related work in ensemble learning either assumes an identical sample distribution (e.g., bagging, boosting, random forest) or decomposes multi-modular input data in the feature vector space (e.g., mixture of experts, multimodal ensemble) and thus cannot effectively minimize class ambiguity. In contrast, we propose a spatial ensemble framework that explicitly partitions input data in geographic space. Our approach first preprocesses data into homogeneous spatial patches and uses a greedy heuristic to allocate pairs of patches with high class ambiguity into different zones.We further extend our spatial ensemble learning framework with spatial dependency between nearby zones based on the spatial autocorrelation effect. Both theoretical analysis and experimental evaluations on two real world wetland mapping datasets show the feasibility of the proposed approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number43
JournalACM Transactions on Intelligent Systems and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Association for Computing Machinery.


  • Class ambiguity
  • Local models
  • Spatial classification
  • Spatial ensemble
  • Spatial heterogeneity


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