The activated sludge process (ASP) is the most generally applied biological wastewater treatment approach. Depending on the design and specific application, activated sludge wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) can achieve biological nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) removal, besides the removal of organic carbon substances. However, the effluent N and P limits are getting tighter because of increased emphasis on environmental protection, and the needs for energy conservation as well as the operational reliability. Therefore, the balance between treatment performance and cost becomes a critical issue for the operations of WWTPs, which necessitates a multi-objective optimization (MOO). Recent studies in this field have shown promise in utilizing MOO to address the multiple conflicting criteria (i.e. effluent quality, operation cost, operation stability), including studying the ASP models that are primarily responsible for the process, and developing the method of MOO in the wastewater treatment process, which facilitates better optimization of process performance. Based on a better understanding of the application of MOO for ASP, a comprehensive review is conducted to offer a clear vision of the advances, and potential areas for future research are also proposed in the field.

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