Use of Constraints in the Hierarchical Aggregation Procedure Intramax

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Background: Intramax is a hierarchical aggregation procedure for dealing with the multi-level specification problem and with the association issue of data set reduction, but it was used as a functional regionalization procedure many times in the past.

Objectives: In this paper, we analyse the simultaneous use of three different constraints in the original Intramax procedure, i.e. the contiguity constraint, the higher-inner-flows constraint, and the lower-variation-of-inner-flows constraint.

Methods/Approach: The inclusion of constraints in the Intramax procedure was analysed by a programme code developed in Mathematica 10.3 by the processing time, by intra-regional shares of total flows, by self-containment indexes, by numbers of singleton and isolated regions, by the number of aggregation steps where a combination of constraints was applied, by the number of searching steps until the combination of constraints was satisfied, and by surveying the results geographically.

Results: The use of the contiguity constraint is important only at the beginning of the aggregation procedure; the higher-inner-flows constraint gives singleton regions, and the lower-variation constraint forces the biggest employment centre as an isolated region up to a relatively high level of aggregation.

Conclusions: The original Intramax procedure (without the inclusion of any constraint) gives the most balanced and operative hierarchical sets of functional regions without any singletons or isolated regions.

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