Spatial optimization as the term conveys, consists of two main concepts which together provide very powerful tools which can be used in location-allocation modelling, transportation, nature reserve design, urban planning and so on. Optimization itself is a sub-field of operation research (OR) and it uses some techniques from mathematics and computer science to find the best element among alternatives regarding some criteria. Most of the optimization toolboxes provide functions to minimize or maximize the objective function satisfying constraints. Concerning ‘spatial’ term in optimization, leads to a more sophisticated concept which needs to restructure optimization problem and formulation in a way that reflect the geographical phenomena.
Tong and Murray (2012) in the paper ‘Spatial optimization in geography’ tried to demonstrate that spatial optimization is a sub-field of geography, although they believe that this discipline has a tight cooperation with GIScience and uses the functionalities in GIS (Geographic Information System) packages. In their article many examples of spatial concepts are covered which some of them will be reflected in this paper as well. Before that basic concepts of optimization will be reviewed. Following that, the strategies for integration of GIS and optimization softwares will be described. Also some applications of spatial optimization in different domains will be enumerated.
The research group Geoinformation works on optimizing supply chains especially for the forest domain. In this area, Vehicle Routing Problems and optimization approaches in manufacturing environments that heavily rely on the spatial dimension.