About the event

This one-day collaborative workshop will centre on interaction between participants from a wide range of disciplines. Participants will already work with spatial data (including texts) of a kind presenting major challenges to common technologies (such as geographical information systems, GIS). Their spatial data will be qualitative, in the sense of Qualitative Spatial Representation (QSR) in AI.

QSR deals with relationships such as alongside, bordering, outside, overlapping, between, etc which appear frequently in human descriptions of spatial situations, and are also used metaphorically when space is used to structure ideas. The potential for QSR in the Digital Humanities has begun to be explored in a research network funded by the AHRC (Space and Narrative in the Digital Humanities, AH/R006482/1, Feb 2018 – October 2019) https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=AH%2FR006482%2F1

The workshop will be the concluding event in this network, and will initiate a move from the interactions in the network to a more extensive range of applications of QSR.

Descriptions such as  "between the church and the river but away from the railway bridge" arise in historical documents and literary texts within the humanities; such spatial data also appears in contemporary everyday communications. This contemporary data is relevant to participants interested in topics such as surveillance of potential terrorists, or understanding  how people talk and think about space in the cities they live in.

 The workshop will also be relevant to participants working with text which is itself spatial, as in concrete and visual poetry or documents where qualitative aspects of arrangements (next to, aligned with, underneath, etc) carry meaning. Such text challenges technologies for digital representation which can handle images of text and text with precise layout or with no layout information, but not these qualitative spatial arrangements.

The workshop will include presentations from the organisers outlining the capabilities of QSR and the background to the event. The majority of the time will be spent in interaction between the participants, including structured group discussions, to:

  • Identify specific research topics, especially with the digital humanities, that would most benefit from use of QSR.
  • Identify ways in in which existing spatial calculi used in QSR are inadequate to address questions in the humanities.

Draft schedule




Participants arrive; Tea and coffee available


Presentation 1


Presentation 2


Identify topics


Groups report on their discussions




Groups work on topics


Groups work on topics


Groups report back


Break; tea and coffee available


Groups work on topics


Groups report back; Wrap up.



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The Alan Turing Institute

1st floor of the British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB

51.5297753, -0.12665390000006