Fast Geographically Weighted Regression (FastGWR): a scalable algorithm to investigate spatial process heterogeneity in millions of observations

Ziqi Li, Stewart Fotheringham, WenWen Li, Taylor Oshan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR) is a widely used tool for exploring spatial heterogeneity of processes over geographic space. GWR computes location-specific parameter estimates, which makes its calibration process computationally intensive. The maximum number of data points that can be handled by current open-source GWR software is approximately 15,000 observations on a standard desktop. In the era of big data, this places a severe limitation on the use of GWR. To overcome this limitation, we propose a highly scalable, open-source FastGWR implementation based on Python and the Message Passing Interface (MPI) that scales to the order of millions of observations. FastGWR optimizes memory usage along with parallelization to boost performance significantly. To illustrate the performance of FastGWR, a hedonic house price model is calibrated on approximately 1.3 million single-family residential properties from a Zillow dataset for the city of Los Angeles, which is the first effort to apply GWR to a dataset of this size. The results show that FastGWR scales linearly as the number of cores within the High-Performance Computing (HPC) environment increases. It also outperforms currently available open-sourced GWR software packages with drastic speed reductions–up to thousands of times faster–on a standard desktop.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Geographical Information Science
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Geographically Weighted Regression
  • GWR
  • parallel computing
  • spatial analysis
  • statistical software

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Library and Information Sciences

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