Origin of the multi-geometry

I'm trying to track down the origin of the geometry collection concept. Did it originate inside or outside GIS? JSTOR has nothing for me. Via Martin Davis, I've found a paper by Egenhofer and Herring [1] [PDF] which mentions a "complex line" on page 6:

– A complex line is a line with more than two disconnected boundaries (Figure 1d).

but makes no mention of multipoints, multilines, or multipolygons. Figure 1d in that paper shows a forking line, like a lower-case Greek lamba: λ.

Anybody have a good reference?


Most likely GIS

Author: GIS oriented

How else would you represent the multiple islands of Hawaii or states like Michigan as a single shape?

Re: Origin of the multi-geometry

Author: Sean

Sure, but where did the concept first crop up? In a paper? In software?

Re: Origin of the multi-geometry

Author: Sean

Another read of that paper makes me think there may be a germ of geometry collections in "cell complexes".

Re: Origin of the multi-geometry

Author: Martin Davis

Cell complexes are quite different to Multi-geometry. They are a fairly deep topological concept.

To turn the question around - why do you care? I suspect any "origin" you come up with won't be all that interesting, since Multi-geometry is just a fairly obvious extension to single geometries, so it's likely to have been invented numerous times (how long have shapefiles been around?)