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Re: Zip Code Proximity search - Examples II
Posted by: p dontthink
Date: June 06, 2006 04:09AM

> it seems that I will need to convert these lat/long coordinates so that
> I can do a radius search using miles as the distance units?

yep. you have to do a little of your own legwork.

http://www.google.com/

note that lat/long are given in degrees (decimal degrees or degrees/minutes/seconds)

problem is that while a degree of latitude remains mostly constant everywhere on earth (69.172 miles, do your own math from there), longitudinal distances are quite different depending on where you are, what latitude you are talking about. it goes from I think 69.172 at the equator to 0 at the poles, so usually you have to use a formula for this figure along the lines of:

cos(latitude) * 69.172

this is all very rough anyway, so, say if you expect all your lookups to be in a given country, you could calculate that number with the latitude of the middle of that country and call it a day.

this way, you have your "sloppy" rectangle for parsing your initial dataset, and then you can refine the search if needed (and sort it) in your application with more accurate distance formulas.

BTW, no one on this thread has mentioned that a commonly used formula for distance computations that is reasonably quick and is much more accurate than the great circle/Haversine formulas being shown in this thread is the Vincenty formula. Google it and you're good to go.

oh, also in case you need it, some random conversion factors:

convert degrees/minutes/seconds to decimal degrees:
decimal degrees = degrees + (minutes + seconds / 60) / 60

convert from decimal degrees to radians:
radians = degrees * (pi / 180)
or:
radians = degrees / 57.29577951

3437.7467707849392526 appears to be the factor to convert from nautical miles to radians

and apparently:
statute (land) miles = nautical miles * 1.150779

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