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# Question: What is the difference between IDW and TIN Interpolation when creating a grid thematic map?

Grid Interpolation: MapInfo Professional provides 2 interpolators for creating grid themes: Inverse Distance Weighting (IDW) and Triangulated Irregular Network (TIN) IDW Interpolator The IDW interpolator is best suited for data values that produce arbitrary values over the grid, that is, data that does not have any relationship or influence over neighboring data values, such as population. This method of interpolation also works well for sparse data. The IDW interpolator calculates the value of grid cells that cover the mapping area. Each data point value from the source table that is considered in the calculation for a cell value is weighted by its distance from the center of the cell. because the interpolation is an inverse distance weighting calculation, the father the point is from the cell, the less influence its value will have on the resulting cell value. MapInfos grid mapping process begins by determining the minimum bounding rectangle (MBR) of the source table. The grid is divided into equal sized square cells of some size. For example, using the Grid default template, the States table in MapInfo s sample data set creates a grid dimension of 200 cells by 303 cells. By calculating the number of cells in the grid and knowing the dimension of the MBR, MapInfo determines that each cell needs to be 18.1 by 18.1 miles square. (Cell Size will be whatever distance units set for the map window. To change the units, go to Map>Options> Map Units)

The Settings for the IDW interpolator are controlled via the Settings button in the Step 3 of 3 dialogue. The illustration above shows the settings for the States table if basing the grid theme on the Grid Default or Grid Gray Default templates that ship with MapInfo Professional. Note the cell size number represents both the height and width of the cell. any change to the cell size will result in an automatic upgrade of the grid dimensions. With the cell size and the source points and values known, MapInfo calculates a value for each cell. this value is determined by calculating a distance weighted average of the points that lie within the specified search radius. Points are inversely weighted by their distance from the center of the cell. In IDW, the exponent determines how much influence each point will have on the result. The higher the exponent, the greater the influence closer points will have on the cell value. Exponents can range from 0 to 10. An aggregation method can also be chosen for the z-values of source data points that are in the same grid cell. choose from: average, count, sum, min, and max.

TIN Interpolator The TIN interpolator works best for terrain data and for data points that have a linear progression or relationship to eachother across the grid, such as temperature. The TIN interpolator produces traingles from a network of points that more closely reproduces the original map terrain than the IDW interpolator. It draws lines between points, dividing them into triangles and connecting all the points that it can. It creates a mesh of connectivity so that the grid points can be interpolated. The interpolation is not influenced by the neighboring original data values, so the false bumping of data is not returned that can be with the IDW interpolator. Included in the Grid tempelates in the Create Thematic Map Step 1 of 3 dialogue are two templates that work best with the TIN interpolator. The TIN interpolator settings are specified in the Step 3 of 3 dialogue. Click the Settings button to display the TIN Interpolator Settings dialog.

As in the IDW interpolator, the cell size indicated in the TIN interpolator is square: the number represents both the height and width of the cell. The grid dimensions are automatically updated when the cell size is changed.

The TIN settings can be manipulated to give more or less detail to the map terrain. The Tolerance setting controls whether closely spaced points are discarded. The tolerance is a fraction of the diagonal length of the bounding box of the points.

The Distance value controls the output. For non-zero distance values, only edges or triangles contained within a sphere centered at mesh vertices are output. This is useful to constrain the triangulated irregular network to a specified distance; otherwise, the triangulation will cross concave regions.

The Feature Angle setting controls the angle (in degrees) that defines a sharp edge. This setting is used for smoothing the final grid. If the difference in angle across neighboring polygons is greater than this value, the shared edge is considered "sharp."