A (More) Detailed View on My Research

Finding answers to the questions raised on the ‘research’ page require an understanding of space and how humans conceptualize it, an understanding of how humans communicate about space, and an understanding of the interaction between an assistance service of any kind and the human user.

Put differently, there is a need for understanding human conceptualizations of space and data structures that reflect these conceptualizations, for algorithms that work on these structures and produce (elements for) communication that are easy to understand for humans, and for ways of interaction that foster understanding of space and keep the user in control.

Our book on “Landmarks: GIScience for Intelligent Services” summarizes very well this thinking and approach to research.

Data Structures

Part of my work is concerned with finding representation mechanisms that capture information relevant for a
task at hand on a level that allows for an easy mapping of the data stored in these structures to human concepts of an environment. I have worked both on indoor and outdoor spaces; a common theme here is hierarchization to enable switches in granularity.

Main publications:

  • K.-F. Richter, F. Schmid, P. Laube (2012). Semantic trajectory compression: Representing urban movement in a nutshell. Journal of Spatial Information Science 4: 3-30.
  • K.-F. Richter, S. Winter, S. Santosa (2011). Hierarchical Representations of Indoor Spaces. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 38(6): 1052-1070.
  • A. Klippel, S. Hansen, K.-F. Richter, S. Winter (2009). Urban granularities – A data structure for cognitively ergonomic route directions. GeoInformatica 13(2): 223-247.
  • S. Hansen, K.-F. Richter, A. Klippel (2006). Landmarks in OpenLS—a data structure for cognitive ergonomic route directions. In M. Raubal, H. Miller, A. U. Frank, M. F. Goodchild (Eds.), Geographic Information Science – Fourth International Conference, GIScience 2006, pp. 128–144. Springer, Berlin. LNCS 4197.

Generation of Cognitively Ergonomic Route Directions

My PhD work. This research introduces the GUARD process (Generation of Unambiguous, Adapted Route Directions), which generates an abstract specification of what to communicate in route directions. The process implements principles of ‘good’ route directions and takes into account landmarks and spatial chunking. Overall, the aim is to generate instructions that adapt to environmental characteristics.

Main publications:

  • H. Cuayáhuitl, N. Dethlefs, K.-F. Richter, T. Tenbrink, J. Bateman (2010). A dialogue system for indoor way-finding using text-based natural language. International Journal of Computational Linguistics and Applications, 1 (1-2): 285–304. Poster paper at CICLing 2010 — 11th International Conference on Intelligent Text Processing and Computational Linguistic.
  • K.-F. Richter (2008). Context-Specific Route Directions — Generation of Cognitively Motivated Wayfinding Instructions. DisKi 314 / SFB/TR 8 Monographs Volume 3. IOS Press.
  • K.-F. Richter (2007). A uniform handling of different landmark types in route directions. In S. Winter, M. Duckham, L. Kulik, B. Kuipers (Eds.), Spatial Information Theory, pp. 373–389. Springer, Berlin. LNCS 4736.
  • K.-F. Richter, A. Klippel (2007). Before or after: Prepositions in spatially constrained systems. In T. Barkowsky, M. Knauff, G. Ligozat, D. R. Montello (Eds.), Spatial Cognition V – Reasoning, Action, Interaction, pp. 453–469. Springer, Berlin. LNAI 4387.
  • K.-F. Richter, A. Klippel (2005). A model for context-specific route directions. In C. Freksa, M. Knauff, B. Krieg-Brückner, B. Nebel, T. Barkowsky (Eds.), Spatial Cognition IV. Reasoning, Action, Interaction: International Conference Spatial Cognition 2004, pp. 58–78. Springer, Berlin. LNAI 3343.

Interaction and (Location-Based) Assistance Services


This area of my research takes the data structures and algorithms resulting from the other parts and, based on them, develops prototype systems and interaction mechanisms. These, in turn, are tested in user studies, providing valuable feedback for future research and, thus, closing the cycle from theory to model to implementation to empirical evaluation and back.

Main publications:

  • K.-F. Richter (2013). Prospects and challenges of landmarks in navigation systems. In M. Raubal, D. Mark, A. Frank (Eds.), Cognitive and Linguistic Aspects of Geographic Space — New Perspectives on Geographic Information Research. Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography, pp. 83-97. Springer, Berlin.
  • K.-F. Richter, B. Weber, B. Bojduj, S. Bertel (2010). Supporting the designer’s and the users’ perspective in computer aided architectural design. Journal of Advanced Engineering Informatics 24(2): 180-187.
  • K.-F. Richter, D. Dara-Abrams, M. Raubal (2010). Navigating and Learning with Location Based Services: A User-Centric Design. In G. Gartner, Y. Li(Eds.), Location Based Services and TeleCartography III. Springer, Berlin.
  • K.-F. Richter, M. Tomko, S. Winter (2008). A dialog-driven process of generating route directions. In Computers, Environment and Urban Systems 32(3): 233–245.

User-Generated Content

I am exploring approaches of crowd-sourcing and user-generated content to tap into people’s conceptualization of the spaces they live in, with the aim to capture the semantics of an environment for use in location-based services. Also, letting users play an active role in how the services that they use operate may be one way of countering the negative cognitive effects of automation.

Main publications:

  • Wolfensberger, M., Richter, K.-F. (2015). A mobile application for a user-generated collection of landmarks. In J. Gensel, M. Tomko (Eds.), Web and Wireless Geographical Information Systems. Springer, Cham. LNCS 9080
  • Richter, D., Vasardani, M., Stirling, L., Richter, K.-F., Winter, S. (2013). Zooming in — zooming out: Hierarchies in place descriptions. In M. Jukka (Ed.), Proceedings of the 9th Symposium on Location-Based Services. Lecture Notes in  Geoinformation and Cartography. Springer, Berlin.
  • Richter, K.-F., Winter, S. (2011). Citizens as Database: Conscious Ubiquity in Data Collection. In D. Pfoser, Y. Tao, K. Mouratidis, M.A. Nascimento, M. Mokbel, S. Shekhar, Y. Huang (Eds.), Advances in Spatial and Temporal Databases – 12th International Symposium on Spatial and Temporal Databases (SSTD’11), pp. 445-448. Springer, Berlin. LNCS 6849.

Schematic Maps

Stockholm Subway

Schematization is all about intentionally simplifying a representation beyond technical needs to achieve cognitive adequacy. The fundamental design principle is to identify that information that is crucial for a specific task and then to highlight this information in map-like representations exploiting perceptual and cognitive principles of human information processing.

Main publications:

  • F. Schmid, K.-F. Richter, D. Peters (2010). Route aware maps: Multi-granular wayfinding assistance. Spatial Cognition and Computation 10(2): 184-206.
  • K.-F. Richter, D. Peters, G. Kuhnmünch, F. Schmid (2008). What do focus maps focus on? In C. Freksa, N. Newcombe, P. Gärdenfors, S. Wölfl (Eds.), Spatial Cognition VI – Learning, Reasoning, and Talking about Space, pp. 154—170. Springer, Berlin. LNAI 5248.
  • A. Klippel, K.-F. Richter, T. Barkowsky, C. Freksa (2005). The cognitive reality of schematic maps. In L. Meng, A. Zipf, T. Reichenbacher (Eds.), Map-based Mobile Services – Theories, Methods and Implementations, pp. 57–74. Springer, Berlin.

Path Search

McDonald Highway

Traditional path search algorithms look for the shortest or quickest path. However, people often rather use paths that minimize cognitive effort or the chances to go wrong – given that these do not lead to huge detours. This research captures these cognitive heuristics of path search in efficient algorithms.

Main publications:

  • K.-F. Richter (2009). Adaptable Path Planning in Regionalized Environments. In K. Stewart Hornsby, C. Claramunt, M. Denis, G. Ligozat (Eds.), Spatial Information Theory, pp. 453–470. Springer, Berlin. LNCS 5756.
  • K.-F. Richter, M. Duckham (2008). Simplest instructions: Finding easy-to-describe routes for navigation. In T.J. Cova, H.J. Miller, K. Beard, A.U. Frank, M. Goodchild (Eds.), Geographic Information Science – 5th International Conference, GIScience 2008, pp. 274—289. Springer, Berlin. LNCS 5266.

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