What are the optimum number of contour levels in a sea floor map with coloured depth intervals? This question is answered in terms of information theory. Information theory computes the channel capacity of an information source as the di.erence between the map entropy and the degree of misinterpretations (equivocation). In order to get the parameters needed for the entropy and equivocation computations, an experiment was carried out.
From a digital sea.oor model a series of maps were constructed. The topography of the sea.oor was visualized as coloured depth intervals, and twenty two subjects participated in a perception study. From the experiment the channel capacity of the sea.oor maps was found to be seven or eight classes, dependent on whether a smoothed or the original entropy graph is selected. The cartographic relevance of the channel capacity is discussed.
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