"formulas to calculate geo proximity" Answer’s


The Law of Cosines and the Haversine Formula will give identical results assuming a machine with infinite precision. The Haversine formula is more robust to floating point errors. However, today's machines have double precision of the order of 15 significant figures, and the law of cosines may work just fine for you. Both these formulas assume spherical earth, whereas Vicenty's iterative solution (most accurate) assumes ellipsoidal earth (in reality the earth is not even an ellipsoid - it is a geoid). Some references: http://www.movable-type.co.uk/scripts/gis-faq-5.1.html

It gets better: note the latitude to be used in the law of cosines as well as the Haversine is the geocentric latitude, which is different from geodetic latitude. For a sphere, these two are the same.

Which one is fastest to compute?

In order from fastest to slowest are: law of cosines (5 trig. calls) -> haversine (involves sqrt) -> Vicenty (have to solve this iteratively in a for loop)

Which one is most accurate?


Which one is best when speed and accuracy are both considered?

If your problem domain is such that for the distances you are trying to calculate, the earth can be considered as flat, then you can work out (I am not going to give details) a formula of the form x = kx * difference in longitude, y = ky * difference in latitude. Then distance = sqrt(dxdx + dydy). If your problem domain is such that it can be solved with distance squared, then you won't have to take sqrt, and this formula will be as fast as you get possibly get. It has the added advantage that you can calculate the vector distance - x is distance in east direction, and y is distance in the north direction. Otherwise, experiment with the 3 and choose what works best in your situation.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
answered 11 Months ago
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