Use of fractal-based approaches in the assessment of the Canadian recognized maritime picture


  1. Dobias, P.
  2. Horn, S.
  3. Liu, M.J.
  4. Eisler, C.
  5. Sprague, K.
Corporate Authors
Defence Research and Development Canada, Centre for Operational Research and Analysis, Ottawa ON (CAN)
In order to understand the intrinsic structure of the geospatial distribution of vessel detections within the Canadian maritime regions, fractal-based methodologies were applied to detections from RADARSAT-2 and the Automatic Identification System (AIS). The original motivation was to determine which detections are likely to be false. In particular, symmetropy and spatial entropy (related to the fractal dimension) were applied to the data sets. These measures enable one to identify underlying non-linear (fractal) patterns in the spatial data related to emergent behaviour in non-linear systems. They were used in the past to distinguish between the different natures of various attack types in southern Afghanistan, as well as to investigate the fractal nature of the artificial combat in agent-based models. The results, including a comparison with artificially generated test data having known fractal characteristics, are discussed with the particular intent of identifying likely false positives, as well as identifying possible emergent patterns outside of the well-known main shipping routes; some of the implications for the conduct of surveillance operations are outlined as well.
RADARSAT-2;automatic identification system;surveillance;geo-spatial analysis;fractal dimension;symmetropy;spatial entropy
Report Number
DRDC-RDDC-2015-P034 — External Literature
Date of publication
17 Feb 2015
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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