Computational Place and Behavioral Modeling at the Individual and Society Level

Cheng Fu is a Lecturer and Senior Researcher (Oberassistent in German, since 2020.10) and the Group Leader of Urban GeoInformatics (since 2021.11) in the Department of Geography, University of Zurich (UZH), Switzerland. Previously, he was Postdoctoral Researcher in the same department.

Cheng received his Ph.D. in Geography from the Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland (UMD), USA in 2018. Before that, he received his M.A. in Geography from Binghamton University (BU), NY, USA and B.S. in Remote Sensing and GIS from Peking University (PKU), Beijing, China.

Research interests

  • Data mining and data modeling on human-behavior-related Big Data
  • Urban place modeling
  • Mobility and health
  • Geographical information retrieval and visualization
  • Understanding urban geography from human behavior

Journal articles

  1. Zhou, Z.Y., Weibel, R., Fu, C., Winter, S., and Huang, H.S. (2021) Indoor landmark selection for route communication: the influence of route-givers’ social roles and receivers’ familiarity with the environment. Spatial Cognition & Computation. DOI:
  2. Chen, D., Fu, C., Hall, J., Hoy, E., and Loboda, T. (2021). Spatio-temporal Patterns of Optimal Landsat Data for Burn Severity Index Calculations: Implications for High Northern Latitudes Wildfire Research. Remote Sensing of Environment. DOI:
  3. Fu, C., Huang, H.S., and Weibel, R. (2020). Adaptive Simplification of GPS Trajectories with Geographic Context. International Journal of Geographical Information Science. 1-28. DOI:
  4. Fu, C., Song, X-P, and Stewart, K. (2019). Integrating Activity-Based Geographic Information and Long-Term Remote Sensing to Characterize Urban Land Use Change. Remote Sensing. 11(24), 2965. DOI:
  5. Nasri, A., Zhang, L., Fan, J.C., Stewart, K., Younes, H., Fu, C., and Jessberger S. (2019). Advanced Vehicle Miles Traveled Estimation Methods for Non-federal Aid System Roadways using GPS Vehicle Trajectory Data and Statistical Power Analysis. Transportation Research Record. 2673(11). 296-308. DOI:
  6. Fan, J.C., Fu, C., Stewart, K., and Zhang, L. (2019). Using Big GPS Trajectory Data Analytics for Vehicle Miles Traveled Estimation. Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies. 103. 298-307. DOI:
  7. Fu, C., McKenzie, G., Frias-Martinez, V., and Stewart, K. (2018). Identifying Spatiotemporal Urban Activities through Linguistic Signatures. Computers, Environment, and Urban Systems. 72. 25-37. DOI:
  8. Hong, L., Fu, C., Wu, J., and Frias-Martinez, V. (2018). Insights from Online Communications for Local Government Managing Disaster Relief: the Case of Snowstorms. Information Systems Frontiers. 30(4). 387-396. DOI:
  9. Mishra, S., Welch, T., Torrens, P., Fu, C., Zhu, H., and Knaap, E. (2015). A tool for measuring and visualizing connectivity of transit stop, route and transfer center in a multimodal transportation network. Public Transport. 7(1). 77-99. DOI:
  10. Zheng, L., Li, M., Wu, C., Ye, H., Ji R., Deng X., Che Y., Fu, C., and Guo, W. (2011). Development of a Smart Mobile Farming Service System. Mathematical and Computer Modelling 54 (3), 1194-1203. DOI:
  11. Wu, C., Fu, C., Su, H., Zheng, L., Ji, R., and Hu, Y., (2009). GPS-Collection Technology for Agriculture Mobile Management. Transactions of the Chinese Society for Agricultural Machinery, 2009, 40(Z1):169-172. In Chinese with English abstract.
  12. Tang, A., Wu, C., Zheng, L., Ji, R., Chen, X., and Fu, C. (2009). 农业移动终端无线传输技术. (Wireless Telecommunication Technology for Agriculture Applications). Transactions of the Chinese Society of Agricultural Machinery S1, 244-247. In Chinese.

Peer-reviewed conference papers

  1. Fu, C., Nanni, M., Yeghikyan, G., & Weibel, R. (2021). Measuring Polycentricity: A Whole Graph Embedding Perspective. GIScience 2021 Short Paper Proceedings. DOI:
  2. Fu, C. and Weibel, R. (2019). Cross-scale Spatial Enrichment of Trajectories for Speeding Up Similarity Computing. Adjunct Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Location Based Services. DOI:
  3. Hong, L., Fu, C., Torrens, P., and Frias-Martinez, V. (2017). Understanding Citizens’ and Local Governments’ Digital Communications during Natural Disasters: The case of Snowstorms. The 9th International ACM. Web Science Conference 2017. June 26-28, 2017. DOI:
  4. Fu, C., Samet, H., and Sankaranarayanan, J. (2014). WeiboStand: Capturing Chinese Breaking News Using Weibo “Tweets”. ACM SIGSPATIAL LBSN’14, November 04-07, 2014, Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, USA. DOI:

Book chapters

  1. Contributor to Chapter 2, Chapter 4, and Appendix 4 of Brunner, H-P (Apr. 2016). Innovation Networks and the New Asian Regionalism: A Knowledge Platform on Economic Productivity. Co-published by Asian Development Bank, Philippines & Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, U.K. & Northampton, MA, U.S.A.


  1. Fu, C. and Weibel, R., Towards Measuring Place Function Similarity at Fine Spatial Granularity with Trajectory Embedding.

Presentations & posters

  1. 2021.2 HERE Technologies "Computational Place and Behavior Modeling Using Socially Sensed Data"
  2. 2020.12 International Graduate Workshop on GeoInformatics 2020 “Towards Measuring Place Function Similarity at Fine Spatial Granularity with Trajectory Embedding”
  3. 2019.12 AGU 2019 “Computing the 1-Minute Diffuse Component of Solar Irradiance Using Deep Learning” (poster)
  4. 2019.11 LBS’2019 “Cross-scale Spatial Enrichment of Trajectories for Speeding Up Similarity Computing”
  5. 2018.12 AGU 2018 “Modeling the Diffuse Component of Solar Radiation Using Artificial Intelligence Techniques” (poster)
  6. 2017.5 NSF Mobility Workshop “Reconstructing Commuting Traffic Patterns from Georeferenced Tweets Using Knowledge about Geographic Context”
  7. 2017.4 AAG Annual Conference 2017 “Mining Text Topics in Georeferenced Tweets to Reveal Activity Patterns in Urban Space”
  8. 2016.4 AAG Annual Conference 2016 “Using Twitter-validated Agents to Reveal Urban Activity Motifs”
  9. 2015.4 AAG Annual Conference 2015 “Simulate Human Daily Activity and Time Use Pattern Using Knowledge from Twitter”
  10. 2014.11 ACM SigSPATIAL 2014 “WeiboStand: Capturing Chinese Breaking News Using Weibo”
  11. 2014.4 AAG Annual Conference 2014 “Preliminary Study on Urban Land Use Classification by Georeferenced Microblogs”
  12. 2014.2 Maryland Emergency Management Association Conference 2014 “Preliminary Study on Linking Twitter to Crime Issues”
  13. 2013.3 AAG Annual Conference 2013 “Characterize Geo-Social Properties of an Online Social Network -identify connection between social and spatial clusters”

Ongoing projects

  1. 2022-2024 — Utilizing Deep Learning in Map Generalization (DeepGeneralization) funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Co-Leader.
  2. 2020.8-present — Mobility Assessment with Modern Technology in Older Patient’s Real-life by the General Practitioner (MOBITEC-GP), funded by the ‘Velux-Stiftung’ Foundation. Member.
  3. 2019.11-present — Mobility, Activity, and Social Interaction Study (MOASIS), funded by the the ‘Velux-Stiftung’ Foudation. Member.

Finished projects

  1. 2018.7-2020.12 — Track&Know: Big Data for Mobility Tracking Knowledge Extraction in Urban Areas, funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program. Key member.
  2. 2017.2-2018.5 — Analyzing Travelers’ Response to Different Active Traffic Management Technologies, funded by the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration. Key member.
  3. 2014.10-2016.6 — Collaborative Research: Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Processes and Systems Type 1: Human Geography Motifs to Evaluate Infrastructure Resilience, funded by National Science Foundation, U.S.A. Key member
  4. 2014.10-2014.12 — Spatial Computing and Point Spatial Index in Hadoop. Leader.
  5. 2014.6-2014.8 and 2014.10-2015.3 — Socio-economic and Trade Information Collection and Visualization for Great Mekong and Central Asia, Office of Regional Economic Integration, Asian Development Bank. Key member.
  6. 2012.8-2014.4 — Web-GIS based Crime Dashboard in Washington D.C. metropolitan area (R.A.), funded by Department of Justice, U.S.A. Key member.
  7. 2013.2-2013.5 — Preliminary Study on Classifying Detailed Urban Land Use by Geotagged Tweets. Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland. Leader.
  8. 2012.9-2012.12 — Gesture-Detection-based Human-Robot Control System. Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland. Leader.
  9. 2011.9-2012.4 — Study on Characterizing Geo-Social Properties of Foursquare Users, SUNY Binghamton University. Leader.
  10. 2008.10-2010.7 — Team member of Management System Development of Public Safety and Emergency Response, funded by Ministry of Science and Technology of the P.R.C. Key member.

Urban Geoinformatics Group

  1. Jing He, visiting PhD student from Wuhan University, 11.2021-present
  2. Changyu Han, prospective PhD student, 02.2022
  3. Zhiyong Zhou, prospective Postdoc, 04.2022

Course taught

  1. UZH 2020-2021 GEO 874 Introduction to Databases, MSc program
  2. UZH 2020-2021 GEO 875 Spatial Databases, MSc program
  3. UZH 2019-2022 GEO 881 Advanced Spatial Analysis II, MSc program
  4. UZH 2019 GEO 876 Introduction to Programming for Spatial Problems, MSc program
  5. UMD 2016 GEOG 476 Object-oriented Programming for GIS, BSc program
  6. UMD 2016 GEOG 788F Big Data Analysis in Python, Short course for graduate students

Supervised students

  1. Martin Specker. “Gait Analysis of Older Adults: Filter Comparison and Geographical Context”. Master thesis. Main advisor. 2020.10-2021.11
  2. Alexandra-Ioana Georgescu “Optimising Locations for Future Return Car-sharing Services: Case Study of the Swiss Car-sharing Cooperative Mobility”. Master Thesis. Main advisor. 2021.02-2021.11
  3. Pascal Griffel. “Correlates of Older Adults’ Out-of-Home Behaviour: Linking Health and Cognition with Mobility Indica-tors Derived from GPS-Trajectories”. Master thesis. Main advisor, with Prof. Dr. Christina Röcke, Dept. of Psychology UZH. 2020.02-2021.01
  4. Livio Brühwiler. “Predicting Individual Car Accident Risk using G.P.S. Trajectories and Critical Driving Events Data”. Master thesis. Main advisor. 2020.02-2021.01
  5. Reetta Vaelimaeki. “The Relationship of Visiting Places and the Health of the Aging: through Spatial Trajectory Data”. Master thesis. Main advisor. 2019.08-2020.11. Graduated.
  6. Ursina Boos. “Towards Cross-Scale Origin Destination Individual Mobility Networks Using Big Data”. Independent research project. Main advisor. 2018.09-2019.02


  1. Co-applicant. Swiss National Science Foundation “Utilizing Deep Learning in Map Generalization (DeepGeneralization)”. 2022-2024
  2. Main applicant. University of Zurich GRC Peer Mentoring Group Funding “Applied Machine Learning for Social and Environmental Problems (ML4SEP)”. 2020.