Rasters with functions

Functions allow you (or the software) to define processing that will be applied to one or more rasters, but this processing is not permanently applied to the rasters, it is applied on the fly as the rasters are accessed. This is similar to creating a layer file and defining the symbology for a raster dataset, such as defining a color ramp to be used with a DEM, or pan sharpening. With functions, you can add these processes and more advanced processing functionality.

Functions are added by the application under these circumstances:

For example, if you add three neighboring raster datasets to ArcMap, you can mosaic them together using the Mosaic button Mosaic in the Image Analysis window. This creates a temporary layer in the table of contents. If you right-click the layer in the table of contents to open the Layer Properties, you see a Functions tab, which lists the functions that are applied. The functions are organized within a function chain. You will see the Mosaic Rasters function, which was used to mosaic the three raster datasets together. You can edit the properties of the existing functions in the function chain, and you can add or remove functions. The example below shows the Functions tab that was added to the Layer Properties dialog box when the Image Analysis window created the layer. This example shows two functions: Mosaic Rasters and Clip. They are applied from the bottom up. Therefore, the Mosaic Rasters function first creates a mosaic of the three images listed, then the Clip function is applied to the mosaicked image to create the image you see in the raster layer.

Example of a function chain

In this next example, four individual raster datasets are added to ArcMap, but each represents a band from the same image. One of the bands is a higher resolution than the first, and you want to create a pan-sharpened image from all four bands. You can use the Image Analysis window to quickly create a multiband raster layer in the table of contents by selecting the three lower-resolution layers in the Image Analysis window and clicking the Composite Bands button Composite Bands. This creates a new multiband raster layer. Next, click the new layer and the fourth (higher resolution) raster in the Image Analysis window and click the Pan-sharpen button Pan-sharpening. The result is a new pan-sharpened raster layer in the table of contents, with the following function chain:

Example of a function chain

If you have a raster with functions in ArcMap that you want to preserve, you can do the following:

If you export your raster with functions to a mosaic dataset or save it as a layer file, it only references the source image. Therefore, if the source image changes or is moved or deleted, the function raster will be broken (similar to any raster layer file).

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