The same geographic names have historically been used by emigrant settlers to denote their new homes, leading to referential ambiguity of place names. Sometimes, the original name gets modified (as in "York" vs. "New York"). In many cases, a name is reused without modification ("Boston" in England, UK vs. "Boston" in Massachusetts, USA). To map a set of place names or toponyms that occur in a document to their corresponding latitude/longitude coordinates, a polygon, or any other spatial footprint, a disambiguation step is necessary. A toponym resolution algorithm is an automatic method that performs a mapping from a toponym to a spatial footprint.
In a computer system based on natural language processing, toponym resolution is typically carried out after toponym recognition, the identification of place names in a document or the more general process of named entity recognition, the identification and classification of a set of types of proper names in a documents, taking into account the internal linguistic structure of the name as well as contextual evidence.
In contrast to geocoding of postal addresses, which are typically stored in structured database records, toponym resolution is typically applied to large unstructured text document collections to associate the locations mentioned in them with maps.
- http://www.era.lib.ed.ac.uk/handle/1842/1849 Leidner, Jochen L. Toponym Resolution in Text. 2007. Ph.D. thesis, University of Edinburgh.
- Hill, Linda L. 2006. Georeferencing. The Geographic Associations of Information. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.