Waldo Tobler

1930 - 2018

Image of Waldo R. Tobler

Waldo R. Tobler, professor emeritus of Geography at the University of California Santa Barbara, died on February 20, 2018. He was 88.

Tobler spent the first 16 years of his career at the University of Michigan before joining UC Santa Barbara in 1977. He held the positions of Professor of Geography and Professor of Statistics at UCSB until his retirement.

A famed cartographer, Tobler is best known in the discipline as the founder of the first law of geography, “Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things,” which he formulated while producing a computer movie. In fact, he has used computers in geographic research for over forty years, with emphasis on mathematical modeling and graphic interpretations. Tobler also was one of the principal investigators and a Senior Scientist in the National Science Foundation sponsored National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis.

Tobler has earned many honors for his work and contributions to geography. He was named Member of the National Academy of Sciences and Honorary Fellow of the American Geographical Society. He received the Osborn Maitland Miller Medal of the American Geographical Society (Outstanding contributions in Cartography or Geodesy), Meritorious Contributor Medallion of the Association of American Geographers, and the ESRI Lifetime Achievement in GIS Award among others.

Tobler earned a Ph.D. in Geography in 1961 from the University of Washington where he also received his master’s (1957) and bachelor’s (1955) degrees. The University of Zurich, Switzerland, awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1988.