Cartographic Heritage into the Digital

Content Analysis in Cartoheritage

5103.3 - Visual Knowledge Aggregation: From Static To Dynamic Information Systems in the Humanities

Wednesday, July 5
9:10 AM - 9:30 AM
Location: Virginia A

The authors will present how they used Renaissance Italy world maps to distill ontologies and design computer applications able to decode and visualise the information encoded in historical cartography. As case studies the authors will present their theoretical approach and their solutions to decode information from the 1457 World Map (Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Portolano 1) and the Fra Mauro World Map (Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana) and automatically link them to other available historical as well as contemporary information on Microsoft Azure. These solutions can be seen as a visual knowledge aggregator for scholars in the Humanities.

As more historical databases come online and overlap in coverage, we need to discuss the two main issues that prevent ‘big’ results from emerging so far. Firstly, historical data are seen by computer science people as unstructured, that is, historical records cannot be easily decomposed into unambiguous fields, like in population (birth and death records) and taxation data. Secondly, machine-learning tools developed for structured data cannot be applied, as they are, for historical research.

We propose a complex network, narrative-driven approach to mining historical databases. In such a time-integrated network obtained by overlaying records from historical databases, the nodes are actors, while the links are actions. This tool allows historians to deal with historical data issues (e.g., source provenance identification, event validation, trade-conflict-diplomacy relationships, etc.).

Following this vision, in this talk we will discuss how we have created a set of cross-cultural keywords to share and empower dialogue among coeval sources produced in different linguistic spaces. As a case study, we will start from the theory and the practice of the issues encountered by the international project “Engineering Historical Memory”, according to what the research team experienced in Asia, Europe, and the US to collect, parse, organise, and aggregate multilingual historical data using the Microsoft Azure cloud-based platform (

Acknowledgement. The research has been funded by NTU Singapore (2014-2016 Start-Up-Grant), the 2014 and 2016 Microsoft Research Asia Collaborative Research Programs, 2015 and 2016 Microsoft Azure for Research (PI, Andrea Nanetti).

Andrea Nanetti

Associate Professor and Associate Chair (Research)
School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University Singapore

At Nanyang Technological University Singapore, Dr. Andrea Nanetti is full time Associate Professor and Associate Chair (Research) in the School of Art, Design and Media, and Senior Research Team member in the Complexity Institute, and Faculty Fellow of the University Scholars Program. He also serves as Deputy-Director of the International Research Centre for Architectural Heritage Conservation at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, as a member of the College of Professors in the PhD School of Architecture at the University of Florence, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Maniatakeion Foundation (Greece). SEE:


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Angelo Cattaneo

Associate Professor
CHAM – The Portuguese Center of Global History, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, New University of Lisbon

Dr. Angelo Cattaneo (Ph.D. in History, European University Institute in Florence) is affiliated to the New University of Lisbon. His primary research interests revolve around the history of the cultural construction of space and forms of spatiality from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, by studying cosmography, cartography, travel literature, and the spatiality of languages and religions. He is the author of Fra Mauro’s Mappa mundi and Fifteenth-Century Venice (Brepols, 2011). Angelo’s research has been supported by numerous awards, such as the FCT and C.N.R.S. Postdoctoral Fellowships, the EFEO/Gulbenkian and the John Carter Brown Grants.


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Siew Ann Cheong

Associate Professor
Nanyang Technological University

Dr CHEONG Siew Ann graduated from the National University of Singapore in 1997 with a BSc (Hons) degree in physics, and went on to obtain his PhD in theoretical condensed matter physics from Cornell University in 2006. He then spent a year and a half as a postdoctoral associate with the Cornell Theory Center, before joining the Nanyang Technological University as an Assistant Professor in Physics and Applied Physics in August 2007. His research interest is in understanding the dynamics of complex systems such as biological macromolecules, the brain, earthquakes, financial markets, infectious diseases, and human society.


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Yao-Yi Chiang

Assistant Professor (Research)
University of Southern California

2007 – 2010
Ph.D. in Computer Science, University of Southern California, USA
Dissertation Title:
Harvesting Geographic Features from Heterogeneous Raster Maps
2003 – 2004
M.S. in Computer Science, University of Southern California, USA
1996 – 2000
B.B.A. in Information Management, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
2013 – Pres.: Assistant Professor (Research) - Spatial Sciences Institute, University of Southern California

Yao-Yi Chiang received his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern California in 2010; his Bachelor degree in Information Management from the National Taiwan University in 2000. His general area of research is artificial intelligence and data science, with a focus on information integration and spatial data analytics. He develops computer algorithms and applications that discover, collect, fuse, and analyze data from heterogeneous sources to solve real world problems. Dr. Chiang is also an expert on digital map processing and geospatial information system (GIS). He has published a number of articles on automatic techniques for geospatial data extraction and integration.

Prior to USC, Dr. Chiang worked as a research scientist for Geosemble Technologies and Fetch Technologies in California. Geosemble Technologies was founded based on a patent on geospatial data fusion techniques, and he was a co-inventor. Geosemble Technologies was acquired by TerraGo and Fetch Technologies was acquired by Connotate, both in 2012.


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Chin-Yew Lin

Research manager of the Knowledge Computing group
Microsoft Research Asia

Dr. Chin-Yew Lin research interests are knowledge mining, social computing, question answering, and automatic summarisation. He developed automatic evaluation technologies for summarisation, QA, and MT. In particular, he created the ROUGE package, which become the de facto standard in summarisation evaluations. ROUGE has been chosen as the official automatic evaluation package for Document Understanding Conference since 2004. Before joining Microsoft, he was a senior research scientist at the Information Sciences Institute at University of Southern California (USC/ISI) since 1997. He was the program co-chair of ACL 2012 and program co-chair of AAAI 2011 AI & the Web Special Track.


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Jiri Cajthaml

associate professor
Department of Geomatics, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague

Jiri Cajthaml holds PhD in Geodesy and Cartography (2007) from Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU). Currently he works as a senior lecturer at the Department of Geomatics of CTU. He is a member of Board of Czech cartographic society and represents Czechia in ICC Commission on cartographic heritage into the digital.


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5103.3 - Visual Knowledge Aggregation: From Static To Dynamic Information Systems in the Humanities

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