(Received 1 May 2000; accepted 19 July 2000)
It is sometimes necessary to determine the optimal value for a direction dependent quantity. Using a search technique based on Powell's quadratic convergent method such an optimal direction can be approximated. The necessary geometric transformations in n-dimensional space are introduced. As an example we consider the approximation of the minimum bounding box of a set of three-dimensional points. Minimum bounding boxes can significantly improve accuracy and efficiency of the calculations in modern brachytherapy treatment planning of the volumes of objects or the dose distribution inside an object. A covariance matrix based approximation method for the minimum bounding box is compared with the results of the search method. The benefits of the use of optimal oriented bounding boxes in brachytherapy treatment planning systems are demonstrated and discussed.