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Machine learning-based techniques have recently revolutionized nearly every aspect of autonomy. In particular, deep reinforcement learning (RL) has rapidly become a powerful alternative to classical model-based approaches to decision-making, planning, and control. Despite the well-publicized successes of deep RL, its adoption in complex and/or safety-critical tasks at scale and in real-world settings is hindered by several key issues, including high sample complexity in large-scale problems, limited transferability, and lack of robustness guarantees. This talk explores our recently developed solutions that address these fundamental challenges for both single and multiagent RL. In addition, this talk highlights the complementary role that classical model-based techniques can play in synergy with data-driven methods in overcoming these issues. Real experiments with ground and aerial robots will be used to illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed techniques. The talk will conclude with an assessment of the state of the art and highlight important avenues for future research.
There are many interesting dynamical systems that can be regarded as hierarchically networked systems in a variety of fields including control. One of the ideas to treat those systems properly is "Glocal (Global/Local) Control," which means that the global purpose is achieved by local actions of measurement and control cooperatively. The key for realization of glocal control is hierarchically networked dynamical systems with multiple resolutions in time and space depending on the layer, which introduce many new theoretical control challenges aiming at practical effectiveness in synthetic biology and engineering. The main issues may include how to achieve synchronization by decentralized control and how to make a compromise of two different objectives, one for global and the other for local operations. The background, the idea, and the concept of glocal control are addressed based on an understanding of Internet of Things (IoT) from the control perspective. This talk presents two research topics, namely, (1) hierarchically decentralized control for networked dynamical systems, and (2) robust instability analysis for a class of uncertain nonlinear networked systems.
Regarding the first topic, we propose a theoretical framework for hierarchically decentralized control of networked dynamical systems that can take account of the tradeoff between the global and local objectives to achieve the desired harmony under change of the environments. Several new ideas, by exploiting the special structure of the target systems, enable us to develop scalable control design methods based on the powerful theory in classical, modern, and robust control. The effectiveness of the new theoretical foundations on the analysis and synthesis is experimentally confirmed by applications to electric vehicle control.
The second topic is quite new. It is on robust instability analysis for guaranteed persistence of nonlinear oscillations in the presence of a dynamic perturbation, which is important in synthetic biology. The problem of robust instability has a very different feature from that of robust stability, and hence a new theoretical setting is needed. We define the instability margin as the infimum of the H-infinity norm of the stable perturbation that stabilizes an equilibrium point for a class of nonlinear networked systems. To this end, we introduce a notion of the robust instability radius (RIR) for linear systems and provide a systematic way of finding the exact RIR. Based on this result, the instability margin can be analyzed exactly, with an additional theoretical investigation on how to properly treat the change of the equilibrium point due to the perturbation. The results are applied to the Repressilator in synthetic biology, and the effectiveness is confirmed by numerical simulations.
Mathematics plays a fundamental role in disciplines such as physics, engineering, computer science, and chemistry and has been more recently accepted as a suitable language for solving problems in biology, biochemistry, and medicine.
Control theory is part of the mathematical world and has the peculiarity of borrowing tools from different branches of mathematics. Interestingly, many of the techniques conceived and routinely used to solve control problems can be quite successfully adapted to solve new relevant problems, both practical and curiosity-driven, in other fields.
This talk discusses the structural analysis of systems, aimed at explaining how mechanisms work, why they work in a certain way, and to which extent they perform their task properly even in the presence of perturbations and disturbances.
The first part of the talk briefly introduces some preliminary motivating examples of mechanisms, borrowed from other disciplines alien to control theory, to show how a control approach can be very powerful to understand fundamental principles.
The second part introduces the definitions of structural versus robust properties, discussing paradigmatic case studies from the literature. Robust stability analysis is presented in an inverse form: "We know that this system is stable, but why is the system so incredibly stable?". Other fundamental concepts such as (perfect) adaptation, structural steady-state analysis, graph loop analysis, and aggregation are considered.
The third part discusses application examples from biology and biochemistry, to showcase the potential impact that the mathematical approach of control theory, suitably revised, can have in these disciplines and how interdisciplinary research can bring fresh ideas to control theorists.
Existing control design and verification methods are limited in their ability to address large numbers of interacting agents, multiple layers of feedback, and complex system-level requirements. This talk will demonstrate a strategy for overcoming this limitation with compositional and hierarchical approaches. The compositional approach exposes a complex system as an interconnection of smaller subsystems and derives system-level guarantees from subsystem properties. The hierarchical approach decomposes the synthesis and verification tasks into layers, from high-level decision making to low-level control synthesis. Taken together, these approaches break apart intractably large design and verification problems into subproblems of manageable size. In addition to broadly applicable methodology, the talk will present numerous motivating applications and experimental results, involving multicellular biological systems, fleets of autonomous vehicles, and a multiscale traffic management system.