On detecting spatial outliers

Dechang Chen, Chang Tien Lu, Yufeng Kou, Feng Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


The ever-increasing volume of spatial data has greatly challenged our ability to extract useful but implicit knowledge from them. As an important branch of spatial data mining, spatial outlier detection aims to discover the objects whose non-spatial attribute values are significantly different from the values of their spatial neighbors. These objects, called spatial outliers, may reveal important phenomena in a number of applications including traffic control, satellite image analysis, weather forecast, and medical diagnosis. Most of the existing spatial outlier detection algorithms mainly focus on identifying single attribute outliers and could potentially misclassify normal objects as outliers when their neighborhoods contain real spatial outliers with very large or small attribute values. In addition, many spatial applications contain multiple non-spatial attributes which should be processed altogether to identify outliers. To address these two issues, we formulate the spatial outlier detection problem in a general way, design two robust detection algorithms, one for single attribute and the other for multiple attributes, and analyze their computational complexities. Experiments were conducted on a real-world data set, West Nile virus data, to validate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-475
Number of pages21
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Algorithm
  • Outlier detection
  • Spatial data mining


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