In statistics, Moran's I is a measure of spatial autocorrelation developed by Patrick Alfred Pierce Moran. Spatial autocorrelation is characterized by a correlation in a signal among nearby locations in space. Spatial autocorrelation is more complex than one-dimensional autocorrelation because spatial correlation is multi-dimensional (i.e. 2 or 3 dimensions of space) and multi-directional.
Moran's I is defined as
where is the number of spatial units indexed by and ; is the variable of interest; is the mean of ; and is an element of a matrix of spatial weights.
The expected value of Moran's I under the null hypothesis of no spatial autocorrelation is
Its variance equals
Negative values indicate negative spatial autocorrelation and the inverse for positive values. Values range from −1 (indicating perfect dispersion) to +1 (perfect correlation). A zero value indicates a random spatial pattern. For statistical hypothesis testing, Moran's I values can be transformed to Z-scores in which values greater than 1.96 or smaller than −1.96 indicate spatial autocorrelation that is significant at the 5% level.
Moran's I is inversely related to Geary's C, but it is not identical. Moran's I is a measure of global spatial autocorrelation, while Geary's C is more sensitive to local spatial autocorrelation.
Moran's I values is widely used in the analysis of geographic differences in health variables. It has been used to characterize the impact of lithium concentrations in public water on mental health. It has also recently been used in dialectology to measure the significance of regional language variation.
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- "Geospatial examination of lithium in drinking water and suicide mortality". Int J Health Geogr. 11 (1): 19. 2012. doi:10.1186/1476-072X-11-19.
- Grieve, Jack (2011). "A regional analysis of contraction rate in written Standard American English". International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 16 (4): 514–546. doi:10.1075/ijcl.16.4.04gri.