I edited How to find the closest segment to a point to add the nearest tag, which apparently is synonymous with proximity. I initially wanted to add the nearest-neighbor tag, but reading the description, thought better of it:

A technique for resampling raster data in which the value of each cell in an output raster is calculated using the value of the nearest cell in an input raster.

However, looking at the tagged questions with that tag, it seems it is being used as I thought it should be: searching for the nearest object(s) to a given object(s). So should the tag definition therefore be modified, and should the proximity & nearest tags be folded into nearest-neighbour?

  • 3
    You're right that this set of tags is worth reviewing. I've mainly used proximity for questions about the Near and Point Distance tools from ArcGIS for Desktop, and assumed that nearest-neighbour was for the resampling method, but it does not look like it is being used that way.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Dec 3, 2015 at 4:16
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    That tag description is far too limited. (It has been my experience that quotations from the ESRI dictionary often need revision and qualification.)
    – whuber
    Dec 3, 2015 at 14:50
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    I see nearest neighbor used in so many ways by differing people. I am not sure it has one single meaning across the GIS community although the ArcGIS one (as in the question) is dominant but not universal and likely in the ESRI press dictionary. I have seen it used in a manner that best resembles NEAR in vector by some who I suspect are more CAD based. Dec 16, 2015 at 1:52
  • Even though this question has an accepted and helpful answer, there are not clear steps proposed that could be followed to implement. I encourage new answers to be added.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Nov 27, 2019 at 23:04

2 Answers 2


There are 62 questions with the tag . I just reviewed all the titles, and only one of them is specific to raster re-sampling. Clearly, many people are used to using the term near to discuss specific proximity of points. In fact several softwares have tools named this, and those tools are not related to rasters. When you're looking for 'nearest' the word 'proximity' isn't necessarily the first to come to mind. Proximity also means general case spatial distance between, whereas nearest implies a specific relationship.

could be split to two different tags - and . Or, the Wiki for it could just be revised so that it isn't specific to raster resampling, but rather the spatial analysis concept (and/or sampling in general, not necessarily re-sampling). The application where it is specific to could use that tag instead or in addition to.

By the way there are 83 questions with , some of which also have applied. 83 isn't many more than 62, and some of it is probably related to the synonymizing of the two or edits to correct/change it. The discussion of those two tags is imho a separate issue, though I do think we would only need either or , not both.

  • Thanks for your research. I'm definitely more familiar with the term being used for nearest-neighbour (proximity) searches, but I also don't do much raster work. It seems that this community tends to align more with the proximity focus.
    – raphael
    Dec 5, 2015 at 18:38
  • Instead of nearest-neighbor-analysis perhaps nearest-neighbor-search would be more appropriate and clearer? (There is also such a thing as Nearest Neighbor Regression aka Average Nearest Neighbor that is yet another definition totally different from the other two. I found some Average Nearest Neighbor questions, but none of them had a "near" tag, just clustering tags.) Dec 16, 2015 at 20:03
  • If there's literally only one question referring to nearest neighour resampling, I think it doesn't deserve its own tag at the moment, and we should have proximity, nearest and nearest-neighbour be synonyms.
    – raphael
    Feb 6, 2016 at 5:31

As an initial simple disambiguation I propose making two new tags (which may or may not persist):

We can then work towards how existing "nearest neighbor" questions can be allocated to raster and vector before looking at how best to tag within the raster and vector, and how best to name the two master tags for raster and vector nearest neighbor analysis respectively.


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