This is a topic under cartography.
Cartographic generalization, or map generalization, includes all changes in a map that are made when one derives a smaller-scale map from a larger-scale map or map data, or vice versa. It is a core part of cartographic design. Whether done manually by a cartographer or by a computer or set of algorithms, generalization seeks to abstract spatial information at a high level of detail to information that can be rendered on a map at a lower level of detail. For example, we might have the outlines of all of the thousands of buildings in a region, but we wish to make a map of the whole city no more than a few inches wide. Instead of throwing out the building information, or trying to render it all at once, we could generalize the data into some sort of outline of the urbanized area of the region.