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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025
  2. Humans subconsciously engage in geospatial reasoning when reading articles. We recognize place names and their spatial relations in text and mentally associate them with their physical locations on Earth. Although pretrained language models can mimic this cognitive process using linguistic context, they do not utilize valuable geospatial information in large, widely available geographical databases, e.g., OpenStreetMap. This paper introduces GeoLM, a geospatially grounded language model that enhances the understanding of geo-entities in natural language. GeoLM leverages geo-entity mentions as anchors to connect linguistic information in text corpora with geospatial information extracted from geographical databases. GeoLM connects the two types of context through contrastive learning and masked language modeling. It also incorporates a spatial coordinate embedding mechanism to encode distance and direction relations to capture geospatial context. In the experiment, we demonstrate that GeoLM exhibits promising capabilities in supporting toponym recognition, toponym linking, relation extraction, and geo-entity typing, which bridge the gap between natural language processing and geospatial sciences. The code is publicly available at 
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  3. Named geographic entities (geo-entities for short) are the building blocks of many geographic datasets. Characterizing geo-entities is integral to various application domains, such as geo-intelligence and map comprehension, while a key challenge is to capture the spatial-varying context of an entity. We hypothesize that we shall know the characteristics of a geo-entity by its surrounding entities, similar to knowing word meanings by their linguistic context. Accordingly, we propose a novel spatial language model, SpaBERT, which provides a general-purpose geo-entity representation based on neighboring entities in geospatial data. SpaBERT extends BERT to capture linearized spatial context, while incorporating a spatial coordinate embedding mechanism to preserve spatial relations of entities in the 2-dimensional space. SpaBERT is pretrained with masked language modeling and masked entity prediction tasks to learn spatial dependencies. We apply SpaBERT to two downstream tasks: geo-entity typing and geo-entity linking. Compared with the existing language models that do not use spatial context, SpaBERT shows significant performance improvement on both tasks. We also analyze the entity representation from SpaBERT in various settings and the effect of spatial coordinate embedding. 
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