Distinguished Lecturers Program

Program Description

The Control Systems Society is continuing to fund a Distinguished Lecture Series.

The primary purpose is to help Society chapters provide interesting and informative programs for the membership, but the Distinguished Lecture Series may also be of interest to industry, universities, and other parties.

The Control Systems Society has agreed to a cost sharing plan which may be used by IEEE Chapters, sections, subsections, and student groups. IEEE student groups are especially encouraged to make use of this opportunity to have excellent speakers at moderate cost.

At the request of a Society Chapter, (or other IEEE groups as mentioned above), a lecture will be scheduled at a place and time that is mutually agreeable to both the Chapter and the Distinguished Lecturer. The Control Systems Society will pay ground transportation at the origin, and Economy Class air fare up to a maximum limit of $1,000 for trips within the same continent and $2,000 for intercontinental trips. The chapter will pay the ground transportation at the destination, hotel, meals, and other incidental expenses. Lecturers will receive no honorarium. Note that the group organizing the lecture must have some IEEE affiliation, the lecture must be free to attend by IEEE members.


When you wish to use this program, you may contact the Distinguished Lecturer directly to work out a tentative itinerary. Then, you must submit a formal proposal to the Distinguished Lecturer Program Chair for his/her approval. The proposal should be sent to the Distinguished Lecturer Program Chair by someone in the local chapter, who should identify their role in the chapter, and provide some details of the invitation, including the dates. The proposal should contain a budgetary quotation for air fare from an authorized source (air line/ travel agent), and a confirmation that the local chapter will pay their share of the expenses associated with the trip. If the trip is approved, then IEEE CSS would pay ground transportation at the origin, and Economy Class air fare up to a maximum limit of $1,000 for trips within the same continent and $2,000 for intercontinental trips. The chapter will pay the ground transportation at the destination, hotel, meals, and other incidental expenses. Procedures for unusual situations (such as when the speaker has other business on the trip) should be cleared through the Distinguished Lecturer Program Chair.

The expense claim filed by the distinguished lecturer upon the conclusion of the trip should contain receipts for the airfare and ground transportation at the origin.
Each distinguished lecturer will be limited to two trips per year, out of which at most one can be inter-continental.

Distinguished Lecturers Program Chair

  • Headshot Photo
    President - 2009; Distinguished Lecturer Program Chair; Standards; Past Editor-in-Chief - Control Systems Magazine - 1999-2003

Distinguished Lecturers

Andrew G. Alleyne Headshot Photo
Distinguished Lecturer

Modeling and Control of Transient Thermal Systems
A Hierarchical Approach to Control of Complex Energy and Power Systems for Air Vehicles
Precision Motion Control for Manufacturing Applications

Headshot Photo
Distinguished Lecturer

Transactive Control in Smart Cities

The concept of Smart City is gaining popular attention with the goal of sustainability and efficiency, the needs of enhancing quality and performance, and the explosion of technological advances in communication and computation. Given that 50% of the world’s population lives in urban regions, critical infrastructures of energy, transportation, and health and their growing interdependencies have to be collectively analyzed and designed to provide the substrate for the realization of the Smart City Concept. This talk will address one of these infrastructures, Urban Mobility, and in particular the concept of dynamic toll pricing to alleviate congestion. With the growth and expansion of many large metropolitan centers in the last few decades, the problem of traffic congestion continues to grow and vex commuters, commercial drivers, city planners and officials, and environmentalists worldwide. Over 1 billion vehicles travel on the roads today, and that number is projected to double by 2020. Driving a car is an unavoidable choice for at least 50% of city populations, who rely on their vehicles to get to school or to work. Transactive control, the concept of feedback through economic transactions, appears to be a promising tool for addressing traffic congestion. In particular, we have explored dynamic toll pricing for alleviating traffic congestion and increasing traffic flow during peak hours of the day. A model-based approach to dynamic toll pricing has been developed to provide a systematic method for determining optimal toll pricing schemes. Real-time traffic information from on-road sensors is integrated with complex models of driver behavior and traffic flow to determine the toll price, which acts as a controller to divert traffic flows to desired lanes and routes and lessen the traffic congestion experienced in certain areas. The overall idea of transactive control with particular illustrations of dynamic toll pricing will be presented in this talk.

A Dynamic Framework for Integration of Renewables in Smart Grids

Two major players in a smart grid are renewables and flexible consumption. The former is necessitated by global concerns of sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions, and dwindling resources of fossil fuels. The latter is enabled through the feasibility of fast and large-scale communication and the growing acceptance and economic potential of flexible consumption. Introduction of these two players brings with it a host of challenges, many of which stem from the introduction of complex and uncertain dynamics at various time-scales. In order to assess the impact of these dynamics, and realize the desired goals of a smart grid, of delivering affordable and reliable power to all end-users, an end-to-end framework that is dynamic, and allows the deployment of various analysis and synthesis tools of stability, estimation, optimization, and control is needed. This framework should not only encompass the physically relevant, and traditional timescales of frequency and voltage control, but economically relevant market-based decisions for planning and economic dispatch. More importantly, this framework should address the interactions between the former active-control components that manipulate physical variables and the latter transactive-control components that manipulate economic variables. In this talk, recent results developed in the AAC laboratory at MIT related to the development of such a dynamic framework will be presented.

Practical Adaptive Control

Adaptive Control is viewed as a game changer in many application domains where real-time feedback control is essential to ensure the desired performance. Adaptive controllers, whose distinguishing feature is a parameter estimator that prescribes the rule for changing the control parameters in real-time, have been studied extensively over the past forty years, with fundamental properties of stability and robustness well understood. Guidelines for analysis and synthesis for adaptive controllers have been laid out for linear and (specific classes of) nonlinear systems, continuous and discrete-time systems, single-input and multi-input systems, and deterministic and stochastic systems. So what’s missing?  There are glaring gaps in adaptive control theory that remain to be closed for adaptive control to be a viable, practical, and easily implementable methodology. Guarantees have to be provided that ensure robustness to a wide variety of non-parametric perturbations. Guidelines have to be in place for a systematic design of all free parameters in the controller. Bounds have to be derived, not only for steady-state behavior, but also for transient characteristics. Implementation issues will have to be satisfactorily addressed. The ability to accommodate actuator constraints in terms of bandwidth, magnitude limits, and rate limits has to be precisely characterized. Recently, there have been breakthroughs in Adaptive Control that have led to reducing the above gaps. This talk will outline the basic principles of the now classical adaptive control theory, but also highlight these recent results and show how they contribute towards making adaptive control practical.

Headshot Photo
Distinguished Lecturer

Compositional certification of stability, performance, and safety for interconnected systems

A major problem for today’s large-scale networked systems is to certify the required stability, performance, and safety properties using analytical and computational models.  The existing methods for such certification are severely limited in their ability to cope with the number of physical components and the complexity of their interactions  We address this problem with a compositional approach that derives network-level guarantees from key structural properties of the subsystems and their interactions, rather than tackle the system model as a whole.  The foundational tool in our approach is the established dissipativity theory, enriched with modern computational techniques.  Dissipativity properties serve as abstractions of the detailed dynamical models of the subsystems and allow us to decompose intractably large certification problems into subproblems of manageable size. We leverage large-scale optimization techniques to detect useful dissipativity properties and exploit interconnection symmetries for further computational savings. Case studies demonstrate the applicability of the methods to biological networks, vehicle platoons, and Internet congestion control. 


Formal synthesis for traffic control

We present a formal methods approach to meet temporal logic specifications in traffic control. Formal methods is an area of computer science that develops efficient techniques for proving the correct operation of systems, such as computer programs and digital circuits, and for designing systems that are correct by construction.  We highlight key structural properties of traffic networks that make them amenable to this approach. The first structural property is “mixed monotonicity” which relaxes the classical notion of an order-preserving (“monotone”) system.  We discuss how this property allows a computationally efficient finite abstraction and illustrate the result on a macroscopic model of traffic flow in a road network.  The second structural property is decomposability into sparsely connected sub-networks. Using this property, we exhibit a compositional synthesis technique that introduces supply and demand contracts between the subsystems and ensures the soundness of the composite controller. 


Pattern formation and synchronization in biology

Breaking symmetry in spatially distributed networks is a fascinating dynamical systems problem and is of fundamental interest to developmental biology. We discuss two types of local interaction that underlie formation of gene expression patterns in multi-cellular organisms:  diffusion and cell-to-cell contact signaling.  We first present new insights on a diffusion-driven mechanism for pattern formation and propose a synthetic gene network built upon this mechanism.  We then discuss contact-mediated inhibition that is responsible for segmentation and fate-specification.  We introduce a dynamical model to represent this mechanism and reveal the key properties of the model that are necessary for pattern formation.  The results also yield new insights for the converse problem of maintaining spatial homogeneity, that is, synchrony.  We conclude the talk with a distinct biological problem where synchronization plays an important role:  the locomotion of swimming microorganisms.  Examples include the bundling of flagella and coordination of cilia. With large-scale numerical simulation results for low Reynolds number flows, we argue that synchronization can result from hydrodynamic interactions alone.


Headshot Photo
Distinguished Lecturer

Multiplicative Noise as a Structured Stochastic Uncertainty Problem

Linear systems with multiplicative, time-varying noise exhibit varied and rich phenomenology such as heavy tails and dramatic differences between different notions of convergence. We study such systems in a framework similar to that used in robust control where the stochastic parameters are viewed as a "structured uncertainty". In particular, a purely input-output approach is developed to characterize mean-square stability. This approach clarifies earlier results in this area and also easily produces new ones in the case of correlated uncertainties. Applications of this framework to networked dynamical systems with link failures and stochastic topologies will be illustrated. In addition, an application to a model of the Cochlea will be described which potentially explains otoacoustic emissions as an instability mechanism. Finally, we illustrate some interesting connections of this work with the phenomenon of Anderson Localization which is a canonical problem in the statistical physics of disordered media. 

Scaling Limits in Networked Control Systems

The question of how difficult or easy it is to control a certain network of interconnected dynamical agents is fundamental to understanding engineered or naturally occurring networks, such as vehicular formations or power grids amongst many others. I will argue that standard notions of stability and controllability as binary properties (e.g. a system is either stable or not), convergence rates, or even reachability analysis may fail to predict the behavior of large networks. These apparent difficulties motivate a notion of network controllability based on hard limits on performance in optimal control problems with structural constraints. While such problems are known to be generally intractable, I will show certain examples from vehicular platoons and power grids where informative and simple answers are possible in the asymptotic limit of large system size. This analysis gives asymptotic bounds on network performance and shows its dependence on both the complexity of individual node dynamics,  as well as network connectivity. Some interesting connections between these results and the statistical mechanics of disordered media will be highlighted. 

Calin A. Belta Headshot Photo
Distinguished Lecturer

Formal Synthesis of Control Strategies for Dynamical Systems

Raffaello D’Andrea Headshot Photo
Distinguished Lecturer

So you want to be a wizard: a career in robotics, systems, and control

We are at the cusp of a revolution: we can now create machines that adapt their behavior based on their environment and the results of their actions. The enablers for this revolution are sensing, communication, and computation technologies, and the feedback control algorithms that rule the machines.  In this talk I will discuss the skill set necessary to thrive in this feedback-rich world. 

Headshot Photo
Distinguished Lecturer

Passivity-Based Control in Robotics: Networks, Vision and Human

Passivity concepts have been a topic of interest widely in systems and control. In particular, they have provided unified fundamental tools for a variety of robot control problems. In this talk, I shall describe new developments in passivity-based control in robotics; namely in cooperative control of robotic networks and in visual feedback with visual motion observer. First the talk begins with output synchronization for networked robotics, consisting of nonlinear passive dynamics and of rigid body networks on SE(3). Then it focuses on systematic construction of visual motion observer for three-dimensional dynamic motion estimation, which enables us to synthesize visual feedback control. By exploiting passivity concepts further, an emerging topic of human robotic-networks teaming is also examined and discussed. Rich experimental case studies with hands-on robotic testbeds are effectively demonstrated throughout the talk.

Distributed Energy Management Systems toward Smart Cities: International Research Collaboration

An initiative for Smart Cities has been promoted worldwide as societal-scale CPS (Cyber-Physical Systems) infrastructures. Along with efficient traffic/water/security management, distributed EMS (Energy Management Systems) should play a key role as we head toward low carbon environmental friendly society that is essential for sustainable development. To this goal, JST (Japan Science and Technology Agency) has launched a CREST research area for the distributed EMS building. The aim of this project is to create fundamental theory and advanced technology for optimal control of energy balancing between dynamic demand and supply. The topics covered include forecast and integration of renewable energy, management of electric vehicle/storage, demand response and human behavior, and platform building. A particular emphasis is on the promotion of international research collaboration with the US and European Funding Agencies. This would enable all the researchers involved to catalyze networking and knowledge sharing with a broad array of disciplines. In this talk, the on-going exciting progress of the CREST EMS project is presented.

Headshot Photo
Distinguished Lecturer

Cyber-physical control of road freight transport

Freight transportation is of outmost importance for the development of our society and economy. At the same time, transporting goods on roads accounts for a significant amount of all energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this influence, road transportation is mainly done today by individual long-haulage trucks with no real-time coordination or global optimization. In this lecture, we will discuss how modern information and communication technology supports a cyber-physical transportation system architecture with an integrated logistic system coordinating fleets of trucks traveling together in vehicle platoons. From the reduced air drag, platooning trucks traveling close together can save more than 10% of their fuel consumption. Control and estimation challenges and solutions on various level of this transportation system will be presented. It will be argued that a system architecture utilizing vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication enables safe and optimal control of individual trucks as well as optimized vehicle fleet collaborations. Empirical evidence will be presented for why large-scale fleet coordination is mainly a scheduling (not a routing) problem. Incentives for cooperation and pricing of transport services will also be discussed. Several experiments done on European highways will illustrate achievable system performance and potential obstacles to be overcome. The presentation will be based on joint work with collaborators at KTH and at the truck manufacturer Scania.  

Cyber-secure control systems

Cyber-attacks on critical infrastructures are of growing societal concern. Several malicious attacks have been reported over the last few years and in many cases they have targeted control systems. The increasing use of off-the-shelf software and hardware components and open communication networks makes networked control systems vulnerable to cyber-attacks. As the cyber and physical components of these systems are tightly interconnected, traditional IT security focusing on the cyber part does not provide appropriate solutions. In this talk, we will discuss how to model, analyze and design cyber-secure networked control systems. We will introduce an adversary modeling framework and use it for quantifying cyber-security of control systems by means of constrained optimization problems. An attack space defined by the adversary's model knowledge, disclosure, and disruption resources is presented. It is shown that attack scenarios corresponding to denial-of-service, replay, zero-dynamics, and bias injection attacks can be analyzed using this framework. Applications to power networks and process industry will be used to illustrate the attack scenarios, their consequences, and potential countermeasures.

Wireless event-based control

There is a growing deployment of wireless networks in industrial control systems. Lower installation costs and efficient system reconfigurations for wireless devices have a major influence on the future application of distributed control. Traditional sampled-data control is based on periodic sensing and actuation rather than the acting when the system needs attention.  Event-based control instead is reactive and generates sensor  sampling and control actuation when the plant needs it. In this  talk, we will discuss how to design event-based control systems.  It will be shown how wireless access scheme for can influence  the closed-loop performance of the networked control system.  It will be argued that the underlying scheduling control problem  has a non-classical information structure. Appropriate models  for medium access control protocols will be introduced.  It will be shown how these protocols can be tuned for various  wireless control applications. The talk will be illustrated by  several examples from ongoing projects with Swedish industry.  The presentation is based on joint work with several collaborators.

Sanjay Lall Headshot Photo
Distinguished Lecturer

Computation of decentralized control systems

In this talk we discuss the problem of constructing decentralized control systems, which is an outstanding problem in control theory. For centralized control systems, there are many effective algorithms for computing controllers, and this is possible for a wide class of systems including deterministic models such as linear dynamical systems and stochastic models such Markov decision processes.

For decentralized control the situation is very different. For many problems where the centralized counterpart is simple, such as control to minimize the mean square error, there are no known computationally tractable algorithms for the decentralized case.

We present an overview of what is known, along with our recent results, in which we show that for certain restricted classes of  problems efficient algorithms for finding optimal controller do exist, and for a more general class of systems one may compute approximately optimal controllers efficiently.

Headshot Photo
Distinguished Lecturer

Renewable Energy Based Grid Futures - A View from the Last Mile

Population growth, urbanisation and climate change necessitate a paradigm shift in the design and operations of the classical electrical power grid. The original ideas underpinning the first AC grids of the late 19th century still define the present grid, which consists of large power sources at a few distinct locations supplying through the high voltage transmission grid a large, geographically distributed low voltage consumer base.  Much of this paradigm is being questioned at present because
a)      Renewable power sources come with a far lower power intensity per square meter of installation;
b)      Renewable power sources suffer from uncontrollable temporal variations unknown in classical power generation;
c)      In well-established grids, peak-to-base power consumption is increasing, making the transmission grid which caters by necessity for peak demand an economically very unattractive proposition.

At the same time, new technologies provide opportunities
a)      smart metering, but more generally intelligent, interconnected, infrastructure or an internet-of-things for the grid, is totally feasible;
b)      transport is becoming more electrified, with electric vehicles entering the light vehicle market;
c)      electrical energy storage, or non-fossil fuel energy storage at scale is becoming an economically realistic proposition.

In particular these new technologies allow us to reconsider what the last mile in the grid may look like when demand and supply are coordinated through a power matching strategy that respects the physical infrastructure's operational limits. We argue the economic need to consider such approaches in the distribution grid, based on grid usage considerations. Distributed, receding horizon optimized distribution of power to satisfy consumers' energy needs, minimize their energy bills, whilst maximising the utility of renewables, and the grid itself is a realistic option that may change the way we use electrical power and build and exploit distribution networks.

Much of our experience, and the data used in the presentation, are Australia specific. Nevertheless, we will consider scenarios applicable to both high population density urban living as well as semi-rural, and rural circumstances, inclusive of some remarks around the management of micro-grids that may evolve as demand requires.  

The talk will conclude with some observations about the socio-economic and political dimensions of a grid infrastructure supplied by renewable power sources. Non-trivial national regulatory reform is required in Australia, but such reform is insignificant when compared with the trans-national and trans-regional cooperation that is essential to achieve equitable world-wide access to renewable power.


Kristin Y. Pettersen Headshot Photo
Distinguished Lecturer

Snake Robots: from biology, through university, towards industry

Headshot Photo
Distinguished Lecturer

Game theory and multi-agent control

Recent years have witnessed significant interest in the area of multi-agent or networked control systems, with applications ranging from autonomous vehicle teams to communication networks to smart grid energy systems. The setup is a collection of decision-making components with local information and limited communication interacting to balance a collective objective with local incentives. While game theory is well known for its traditional role as a modeling framework in social sciences, it is seeing growing interest as a design approach for distributed control. Of particular interest is game theoretic learning, in which the focus shifts away from equilibrium solution concepts and towards the dynamics of how decision makers reach equilibrium. This talk presents a tutorial overview of game theoretic learning, from its origins as a "descriptive" tool for social systems to its "prescriptive" role as an approach to design on linear learning algorithms for distributed architecture control. The talk presents a sampling of prior and recent results in these areas along with several illustrative examples of distributed coordination.

Exploring Bounded Rationality in Game Theory

Solution concepts in game theory, such as Nash equilibrium, traditionally ignore the processes and associated computational costs of how agents go about deriving strategies. The notion of bounded rationality seeks to address such issues through a variety of alternative formulations. This talk presents two settings motivated by bounded rationality. First, we consider incomplete information dynamic games. A Nash equilibrium in this setting requires each agent to solve a partially observed Markov decision problem that requires knowledge of a possibly extensive environment as well as the strategies of other agents. We introduce an alternative notion, called “empirical evidence equilibria”, in which agents form naive models with available measurements. These models reflect an agent’s limited awareness of its surroundings, and the level of naivety or sophistication can be different for each agent. We show that such equilibria are guaranteed to exist for any profile of agent rationality and compare the concept to mean field equilibria. Second, we investigate learning in evolutionary games, where the focus is on the dynamic behaviors away from equilibrium rather than characterizations of equilibrium. A lingering issue in this framework is what constitutes “natural” versus “concocted” learning rules. Building on prior work on so-called “stable games”, we introduce a class of dynamics motivated by control theoretic passivity theory. We show how passivity theory both captures and extends selected prior work on evolutionary games and offers a candidate for what constitutes natural learning.