Document Type



The Total Operating Characteristic (TOC) measures how the ranks of an index variable distinguish between presence and absence in a binary reference variable. Previous methods to generate the TOC required the reference data to derive from a census or a simple random sample. However, many researchers apply stratified random sampling to collect reference data because stratified random sampling is more efficient than simple random sampling for many applications. Our manuscript derives a new methodology that uses stratified random sampling to generate the TOC. An application to flood mapping illustrates how the TOC compares the abilities of three indices to diagnose water. The TOC shows visually and quantitatively each index’s diagnostic ability relative to baselines. Results show that the Modified Normalized Difference Water Index has the greatest diagnostic ability, while the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index has diagnostic ability greater than the Normalized Difference Water Index at the threshold where the Diagnosed Presence equals the Abundance of water. Some researchers consider only one accuracy metric at only one threshold, whereas the TOC allows visualization of several metrics at all thresholds. The TOC gives more information and clearer interpretation compared to the popular Relative Operating Characteristic. Our software generates the TOC from a census, simple random sample, or stratified random sample. The TOC Curve Generator is free as an executable file at a website that our manuscript gives.

Publication Title

Remote Sensing

Publication Date











flood, remote sensing, stratified random sampling, total operating characteristic (TOC), water index

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Included in

Geography Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.