While a CmpMap provides a very flexible way of constructing arbitrarily complex Mappings (), it unfortunately also provides an opportunity for representing simple Mappings in complex ways. Sometimes, unnecessary complexity can be difficult to avoid but can obscure important simplifications.
Consider the example above (), in which we inter-related two images of the sky via a CmpMap. If the two images turned out to be simply offset from each other by a shift along each pixel axis, then this approach would align them correctly, but it would be inefficient. This is because it would introduce unnecessary and expensive transformations to and from an intermediate celestial coordinate system, whereas a simple shift of pixel origin would suffice.
Recognising that a simpler and more efficient solution exists obviously requires a little more than simply joining two Mappings end-to-end. We must also determine whether the resulting CmpMap is more complex than it needs to be, i.e. contains redundant information. If it is, we then need a way to simplify it.
The problem is not always just one of efficiency, however. Sometimes we may also need to know something about the actual form a Mapping takes--i.e. the nature of the operations it performs. Unnecessary complexity can obscure this, but such complexity can easily accumulate during normal data processing.
For example, a Mapping that transforms pixel coordinates into positions on the sky might be repeatedly modified as changes are made to the shape and size of the image. Typically, on each occasion, another Mapping will be concatenated to reflect what has happened to the image. This could soon make it difficult to discern the overall nature of the transformation from the complex CmpMap that accumulates. If only shifts of origin were involved on each occasion, however, they could be combined into a single shift which could be represented much more simply.
Suppose we now wanted to represent our image's celestial coordinate
calibration using FITS conventions (). This
requires AST to determine whether the Mapping which relates pixel
coordinate to sky positions conforms to the FITS model (for example,
whether it is equivalent to applying a single set of shifts and scale
factors followed by a map projection). Clearly, there is an important
use here for some means of simplifying the internal structure of a
AST A Library for Handling World Coordinate Systems in Astronomy