Computer Science ETDs


Shaun Bloom

Publication Date



Radiation therapy is one of the most effective means for treating cancers. An important calculation in radiation therapy is the estimation of dose distribution in the treated patient, which is key to determining the treatment outcome and potential side effects of the therapy. Biological dose — the level of biological damage (e.g., cell killing ratio, DNA damage, etc.) inflicted by the radiation is the best measure of treatment quality, but it is very difficult to calculate. Therefore, most clinics today use physical dose - the energy deposited by incident radiation per unit body mass - for planning radiation therapy, which can be calculated accurately using kinetic Monte Carlo simulations. Studies have found that physical dose correlates with biological dose, but exhibits a very complex relationship that is not yet well understood. Generally speaking, the calculation of biological dose involves four steps: (1) the calculation of physical dose distribution, (2) the generation of radiochemicals based on the physical dose distribution, (3) the simulation of interactions between radiochemicals and bio-matter in the body, and (4) the estimation of biological damage based on the distribution of radiochemicals. This dissertation focuses on the development of a more efficient and effective simulation algorithm to speed up step (3). The main contribution of this research is the development of an efficient and effective kinetic Monte Carlo (KMC) algorithm for simulating diffusion-limited chemical reactions in the context of radiation therapy. The central problem studied is - given n particles distributed among a small number of particle species, all allowed to diffuse and chemically react according to a small number of chemical reaction equations - predict the radiochemical yield over time. The algorithm presented makes use of a sparse grid structure, with one grid per species per radiochemical reactant used to group particles in a way that makes the nearest neighbor search efficient, where particles are stored only once, yet are represented in grids of all appropriate reaction radii. A kinetic data structure is used as the time stepping mechanism, which provides spatially local updates to the simulation at a frequency which captures all events - retaining accuracy. A serial and three parallel versions of the algorithm have been developed. The parallel versions implement the kinetic data structure using both a standard priority queue and a treap data structure in order to investigate the algorithms scalability. The treap provides a way for each thread of execution to do more work in a particular region of space. A comparison with a spatial discretization variant of the algorithm is also provided.




kinetic data structure, bi-chromatic closest pair, radiochemical reaction, Brownian bridge, parallelized kinetic data structure

Document Type


Degree Name

Computer Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Computer Science

First Advisor

Luan, Shuang

First Committee Member (Chair)

Williams, Lance

Second Committee Member

Estrada, Trilce

Third Committee Member

Yang, Yin

Project Sponsors

National Science Foundation Grant CBET 0853157 European Space Agency ""BioRad II"" 4000107387/12/NL/AK Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale PhysiCancer ""MICRONAUTE' UNM travel grant'"