OPTIMIZATION FOR RADIOTHERAPY
This installation was completed in spring of 2018 as a collaboration between Emil Polyak designer and Dávid Papp mathematician who specializes in optimization for radiotherapy in cancer treatment. Students who participated in the project were Sarah Albright, Madison Brown, Ariana Ehuan, Nikki Knapp, Marcus Reefer, Madison Tart, and Stephen Waddell.
The key to treating cancer is to destroy as much of the tumor as possible while preserving the healthy tissue. Cut too little and the tumor grows back. Cut too much and wreak havoc on the patient. Recent biological insights and technological advancements are worked into the mathematical optimization models and algorithms for radiotherapy. Conversely, mathematical analysis can lead to medical improvements! For example, our math research has found that the benefit of radiotherapy can be substantially increased by using a continuously modulated radiation beam whose shape and intensity is changing as it is rotating around the patient (“arc therapy”); and designing multi-day treatments that treat different parts of the tumor on each day of the treatment (“spatiotemporal fractionation”).
This artistic simulation of radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer exposes critical aspects of geometric optimization in radiotherapy. The experience is physical and three dimensional, engaging the public in a unique and memorable interactive, digital “experiment” to communicate complex and multifaceted challenges in mathematical optimization.