Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2015

Author's Department

Computer Science & Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



The intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) optimizes the beam’s intensity to deliver the prescribed dose to the target while minimizing the radiation exposure to normal structures. The IMRT optimization is a complex optimization problem because of the multiple conflicting objectives in it. Due to the complexity of the optimization, the IMRT treatment planning is still a trial and error process. Hierarchical optimization was proposed to automate the treatment planning process, but its potential has not been demonstrated in a clinical setting. Moreover, hierarchical optimization is slower than the traditional optimization. The dissertation studied a sampling algorithm to reduce the hierarchical optimization time, customized an open source optimization solver to solve the nonlinear optimization formulation and demonstrated the potential of hierarchical optimization to automate the treatment planning process in a clinical setting. We generated the treatment plans of 31 prostate patients by hierarchical optimization using the same criteria as used by planners to prepare the treatment plans at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. We found that hierarchical optimization produced the same or better treatment plans than that produced by a planner using the Eclipse treatment planning system. Therefore, the dissertation demonstrated that hierarchical optimization could automate the treatment planning process and shift the paradigm of the treatment planning from manual trial and error to an ideal automated process.


English (en)


Yixin Chen

Committee Members

Eric Klein, Roger Chamberlain, Sanmay Das


Included in

Engineering Commons