Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Beginning in the early 1960s, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have evolved from mainframe computer programs written in FORTRAN into the highly complex desktop PC software that we have today. In the early 1980s, GIS development went in two directions. Commercial GIS companies such as ESRI began producing commercial GIS packages such as ArcView while the United States Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) began developing a “no fee” GIS package called Geographic Research Analysis Support System (GRASS). ESRI’s ArcView would ultimately evolve into present day ArcGIS 9.0, while the CERL version of GRASS would eventually become today’s open source and freely available GRASS 6.0. / The objective of this study was to characterize and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of ArcGIS 9.0 and GRASS 6.0 for application involving land use classification analysis. The hypothesis of the study was that GRASS GIS implementation would be more involved and time consuming than ArcGIS, but would ultimately provide an effective alternative to ArcGIS. / A land use classification and analysis case study of Eugene-Springfield, Oregon, was used to compare the two packages. Throughout the course of the study, a detailed journal was kept documenting the land use classification process in both programs. Categories ranging from installation to post-classification analysis and map layout capabilities were documented for comparison. Upon completion of the analysis, each category was scored to compare strengths and weaknesses of both packages. / The results of the study supported the hypothesis within the limitations of the case study. ArcGIS is indeed more straightforward than GRASS. However, GRASS proved itself fully capable of performing the operations required by the case study and outperformed ArcGIS in several categories. When used in a land use classification analysis, results showed GRASS to be an effective, low cost alternative to ArcGIS.


John Heinrichs

Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 2006 Todd R. Buchanan


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