A cellular automaton – based system for the identification of topological features of carotid artery plaques

  • Matthew Delaney

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The formation of a plaque in one or both of the internal carotid arteries poses a serious threat to the lives of those in whom it occurs. This thesis describes a technique designed to detect level of occlusion and provide topological information about such plaques. In order to negate the cost of specialised hardware, only the sound produced by blood-flow around the occlusion is used; this raises problems that prevent the application of existing medical imaging techniques, however, these can be overcome by the application of a nonlinear technique that takes full advantage of the discrete nature of digital computers. Results indicate that both level of occlusion and presence or absence of various topological features can be determined in this way. Beginning with a review of existing work in medical-imaging and in more general but related techniques, the EPI process of Friden (2004) is identified as the strongest approach to a situation where it is desirable to work with both signal and noise yet avoid the computational cost and other pitfalls of established techniques. The remained of the thesis discusses attempts to automate the EPI process which, in the form given by Frieden (2004), requires a degree of human mathematical creative problem-solving. Initially, a numerical-methods inspired approach based on genetic algorithms was attempted but found to be both computationally costly and insufficiently true to the nature of the EPI equations. A second approach, based on the idea of creating a formal system allowing entropy, direction and logic to be manipulated together proved to lack certain key properties and require an amount of work beyond the scope of the project described in this thesis in order to be extended into a form that was usable for the EPI process. The approach upon which the imaging system described is ultimately built is based on an abstracted form of constraint-logic programming resulting in a cellular-automaton based model which is shown to produce distinct images for different sizes and topologies of plaque in a reliable and human-interpretable way.
Date of Award2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Northampton
SupervisorPhilip Picton (Supervisor), G Pearce (Supervisor) & Kamal Bechkoum (Supervisor)

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