Details about the definition of the (horizontal geographical) mean position

Several definitions of a geographical mean/center/midpoint are possible. The solution given here can be described as the “center of gravity” of the given positions, and can be compared to the centroid of a geometrical shape. Informally, the found mean position can be described by the following: Assume a sphere that is a model of the Earth, and let the sphere roll freely on a horizontal plane (in a uniform gravitational field). Place weights at the given positions of the sphere, and the weights will pull one side of the sphere down due to the gravitation (assuming the positions are not antipodal). When the sphere is in equilibrium, the “center of gravity”-position is the tangent point between the sphere and the plane.

(Another possible way to define a midpoint is the position where the sum of surface distances (great circle distances) from the original positions is at a minimum. This midpoint is undefined when only two positions are given. If three positions are given in one dimension as 0, 0, and 3, this midpoint is at 0, while the arithmetic mean is 1. Iterations are probably needed to calculate this midpoint, and code for this is not included at this web site.)

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