Updated on 3/11/2019

Disclaimer: This document is prepared for CP6521 Advanced GIS, a graduate-level city planning course at Georgia Tech in Spring 2019. For any question, contact the instructor, Yongsung Lee, Ph.D. via yongsung.lee(at)gatech.edu.

Course Description

This course teaches you intermediate-level GIS skills. After taking this course, you are expected to do the following things:

  1. Handle multiple data sets in varying forms from different sources
  2. Automate tasks over multiple observations or data sets
  3. Understand & conduct complex spatial analysis
  4. Visualize/communicate spatial/non-spatial data in effective ways

Throughout the semester, we will intensively use R, an open source programming language, instead of ESRI products. Why?

  1. Easy to automate/customize repetitive operations
  2. Easy to find errors and fix them
  3. Easy to document tasks (i.e., #comment)
  4. Easy to communicate/collaborate with others (e.g., for team projects)
  5. Catch up with fast-evolving data & tools
  6. Free


  1. Intro to GIS
  2. Statistics for planners

Grading Breakdown

Items percent
Six weekly assignment (mostly practice questions) 30%
Three mini projects (one from each module) 30%
Final group project (up to 3 students, proposal due on Mar 17) 30%
Class participation (e.g., attendance) 10%

I do not accept late submission because we will review assignments and mini projects in class immediately after their due dates. If you have inevitable situations, please email me in advance. FYI, assignments and mini projects will be posted on Mondays, and their due dates are following Sunday midnight on Canvas (11:59:59PM on Sundays).

Semester schedules

Week Monday Module Topics Chapters/Materials HW posted HW due
1 Jan 7 Data manipulation Intro to R/RStudio, Data visualization R4DS 1, 2, 3
2 Jan 14 Data manipulation No Class HW#1: Jan 14 Jan 20
3 Jan 21 Data manipulation tidyverse verbs R4DS 5 HW#2: Jan 21 Jan 27
4 Jan 28 Data manipulation Exploratory data analysis, Tidy R4DS 7, 12 HW#3: Jan 28 Feb 3
5 Feb 4 Data manipulation Join, Functions, Data types R4DS 13, 19, 20 Mini#1: Feb 4
6 Feb 11 Data manipulation Iteration,Census data R4DS 21 Feb 17
7 Feb 18 Spatial data processing sf class, Attribute operations Geocomp 2, 3 HW#4: Feb 18 Feb 24
8 Feb 25 Spatial data processing Spatial operations, Exercises Geocomp 4 HW#5: Feb 25 Mar 3
9 Mar 4 Spatial data processing Geometry operations, Exercises, Raster operations Geocomp 3, 4, 5 Mini#2: Mar 11
10 Mar 11 Spatial data processing Web data data Geocomp 6, 7, 8 Mar 26
Mar 18 Spring break No Class Proposal Mar 24
11 Mar 25 Spatial data anlaysis Proposal presentation, Point pattern analysis Intro 6, Applied 7, 8 HW#6: Mar 25 Mar 31
12 Apr 1 Spatial data anlaysis Spatial autocorrelation/autoregression, Model building Intro 7, Applied 9, 10, R4DS 22-25 Mini#3: Apr 1
13 Apr 8 Spatial data anlaysis Use case: Transportation, Network analysis Geocomp 12, Apr 14
14 Apr 15 Spatial data anlaysis Use case: Geomarketing, Ecology Geocomp 13, 14
15 Apr 22 Wrap-up Communication R4DS 26-30
16 Apr 29 Presentation

How the class is organized.

  1. In-class materials are uploaded here on RPubs and Gerogia Tech GitHub.
  2. Students submit Homework on the Canvas course website. Except HW, I do not plan to use Canvas very much.
  3. Students will get free access to selected courses on Datacamp.com. You need to create an account there. If you already have one with a non-GT email address, contact me.
  4. As of today, you can install R packages on the Arch-W 358 machines, but not on VLAB. I am discussing with CoD IT staff now.
  5. Highly recommend to use your own machines, with which you can install GitHub & sync files via Georgia Tech Dropbox (free for unlimited storage)

How to succeed in this class.

  1. Be prepared for occasional frustration. It’s part of learning process. However, don’t spin the wheel. You are responsible for actively searching for help. Don’t wait until the last minute (e.g., homework).
  2. Read assigned book chapters/materials, review their examples and snippets, replicate their results, and repeat until you understand.
  3. When you have a problem (and get frustrated), Google it. It will be faster and more efficient than contacting me (of course, you can contact me any time). StackOverFlow will be your best friend.
  4. Work with peers. Form a group early in the semester, and have their sharp eyes on your code. Still, you need to submit your HW individually.
  5. Ask questions to me: via email, in the class, or by memos in your HW submission
  6. Come to the office hour: Tuesday/Friday 4:30-5:45 PM at Arch-W 358


  1. R for Data Science: free online
  2. Applied Spatial Data Analysis with R: full pdf available on the GT library website
  3. Geocomputation with R: full text available online
  4. An Introduction to R for Spatial Analysis and Mapping: 2nd edition will be available in February
  5. Datacamp.com
  6. Urban analytics on Github

Logistics on the first day

  1. Your background: student survey
  2. Schedule makeup classes: Doodle pole


Cell phone use is prohibited at all times during class, except if you are using cell phones to answer quizzes/ surveys. Laptops, tablets, e-readers, and other digital devices may be used to take notes or refer to relevant information, take quizzes, and complete in-class assignments. If you are using a digital device for non-course purposes at any time during the semester, you will be asked to refrain from using it for the remainder of the course. No exceptions.

There will be times in class when the instructor reserves the right to enact the “No Device Rule.” During these times, all digital devices will be required to be stored off desks so that students may concentrate on tasks or presentations. Expect that this rule will be used when your peers are presenting and during guest lectures.

Student-Faculty Expectations

At Georgia Tech, we believe that it is important to continually strive for an atmosphere of mutual respect, acknowledgement, and responsibility between faculty members and the student body. See http://www.catalog.gatech.edu/rules/22.php for an articulation of some basic expectations—that you can have of me, and that I have of you. Respect for knowledge, hard work, and cordial interactions will help build the environment we seek. Therefore, I encourage you to remain committed to the ideals of Georgia Tech while in this class.

Academic Integrity

Georgia Tech aims to cultivate a community based on trust, academic integrity, and honor. Students are expected to act according to the highest ethical standards. For more information on Georgia Tech’s Academic Honor Code, please visit http://www.catalog.gatech.edu/rules/18b.php and http://www.catalog.gatech.edu/genregulations/honorcode.php.

Citation & Plagiarism Verification

Writing with authority and honesty requires explaining the sources of the information you reference. All material should be cited using APA format, which is explained here: http://libguides.gatech.edu/citationtools/apacite.

ADA Accommodations

If you are a student with learning needs that require special accommodation, contact the Office of Disability Services (ADAPTS), http://disabilityservices.gatech.edu/ , as soon as possible, to make an appointment to discuss your special needs and to obtain an accommodations letter. Please also e-mail me as soon as possible in order to set up a time to discuss your learning needs. If any occurrence of disability changes within the semester, please inform me as soon as possible.

Schedule Changes

Throughout the semester, events may require the instructor to rearrange class topics due to conferences, holidays, severe weather, etc. Schedule changes will be announced in class and/or on Canvas.