Enforcing necessary non-negativity constraints for common diffusion MRImodels using sum of squares programming

Tom Dela Haije, Evren Ozarslan, Aasa Feragen

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In this work we investigate the use of sum of squares constraints for various diffusion-weighted MRI models, with a goal of enforcing strict, global non-negativity of the diffusion propagator. We formulate such constraints for the mean apparent propagator model and for spherical deconvolution, guaranteeing strict non-negativity of the corresponding diffusion propagators. For the cumulant expansion similar constraints cannot exist, and we instead derive a set of auxiliary constraints that are necessary but not sufficient to guarantee non-negativity. These constraints can all be verified and enforced at reasonable computational costs using semidefinite programming. By verifying our constraints on standard reconstructions of the different models, we show that currently used weak constraints are largely ineffective at ensuring non-negativity. We further show that if strict non-negativity is not enforced then estimated model parameters may suffer from significant errors, leading to serious inaccuracies in important derived quantities such as the main fiber orientations, mean kurtosis, etc. Finally, our experiments confirm that the observed constraint violations are mostly due to measurement noise, which is difficult to mitigate and suggests that properly constrained optimization should currently be considered the norm in many cases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116405
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Constrained optimization
  • Cumulant expansion
  • Diffusion MRI
  • Diffusional kurtosis imaging
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Mean apparent propagator
  • Sampling scheme design
  • Semidefinite programming
  • Spherical deconvolution
  • Sum of squares optimization
  • Sum of squares polynomials


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