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In the access to image databases, queries based on the appearing visual features of searched data reduce the gap between the user and the engineering representation. To support this access modality, image content can be modeled in terms of different types of features such as shape, texture, color, and spatial arrangement. An original framework is presented which supports quantitative nonsymbolic representation and comparison of the mutual positioning of extended nonrectangular spatial entities. Properties of the model are expounded to develop an efficient computation technique and to motivate and assess a metric of similarity for quantitative comparison of spatial relationships. Representation and comparison of binary relationships between entities is then embedded into a graph-theoretical framework supporting representation and comparison of the spatial arrangements of a picture. Two prototype applications are described.