Efficient coarse simulation of a growing avascular tumor

Michail E. Kavousanakis, Ping Liu, Andreas G. Boudouvis, John Lowengrub, Ioannis G. Kevrekidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The subject of this work is the development and implementation of algorithms which accelerate the simulation of early stage tumor growth models. Among the different computational approaches used for the simulation of tumor progression, discrete stochastic models (e.g., cellular automata) have been widely used to describe processes occurring at the cell and subcell scales (e.g., cell-cell interactions and signaling processes). To describe macroscopic characteristics (e.g., morphology) of growing tumors, large numbers of interacting cells must be simulated. However, the high computational demands of stochastic models make the simulation of large-scale systems impractical. Alternatively, continuum models, which can describe behavior at the tumor scale, often rely on phenomenological assumptions in place of rigorous upscaling of microscopic models. This limits their predictive power. In this work, we circumvent the derivation of closed macroscopic equations for the growing cancer cell populations; instead, we construct, based on the so-called "equation-free" framework, a computational superstructure, which wraps around the individual-based cell-level simulator and accelerates the computations required for the study of the long-time behavior of systems involving many interacting cells. The microscopic model, e.g., a cellular automaton, which simulates the evolution of cancer cell populations, is executed for relatively short time intervals, at the end of which coarse-scale information is obtained. These coarse variables evolve on slower time scales than each individual cell in the population, enabling the application of forward projection schemes, which extrapolate their values at later times. This technique is referred to as coarse projective integration. Increasing the ratio of projection times to microscopic simulator execution times enhances the computational savings. Crucial accuracy issues arising for growing tumors with radial symmetry are addressed by applying the coarse projective integration scheme in a cotraveling (cogrowing) frame. As a proof of principle, we demonstrate that the application of this scheme yields highly accurate solutions, while preserving the computational savings of coarse projective integration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031912
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 22 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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