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Operations Research has a successful tradition of applying mathematical analysis to a wide range of applications, with one of the burgeoning areas of growth being in medical physics. The original application was in the optimal design of the influence map for a radiotherapy treatment, a problem that has continued to receive attention. However, operations research has been applied to other clinical problems like patient scheduling, vault design, and image alignment. The overriding theme of this article is to present how techniques in operations research apply to clinical problems, which we accomplish in three parts. First, we present the perspective from which an operations research expert addresses a clinical problem. Second, we succinctly introduce the underlying methods that are used to optimize a system, and third, we demonstrate how modern software facilitates problem design. Our discussion is tethered to recent publications to foster continued study.


MSTR 09-05