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Submodularity in Dynamics and Control of Networked Systems
 Linda Bushnell

Speaker: Dr. Linda Bushnell, University of Washington

Thursday, May 12, 2016  |  2:00 PM CDT




Networked systems, consisting of distributed nodes that sense their surroundings, exchange information with other nodes, and perform actuation, play an ever-increasing role in applications such as transportation, energy, and health care. In order to provide guarantees on stability and performance, these systems must be controlled via external inputs. An efficient way to do this is by controlling a small subset (leaders) of the network nodes, which then steer the “follower nodes” to the desired state via local interactions. The choice of input nodes will determine critical properties of the system, such as robustness, controllability, and convergence. Selecting a subset of input nodes, however, is inherently a discrete optimization problem, making continuous optimization techniques for control synthesis inapplicable. This talk will describe a submodular optimization framework for selecting the input nodes. Submodularity is a diminishing returns property of discrete functions, analogous to concavity of continuous functions that enables efficient optimization algorithms with provable optimality guarantees.


Linda Bushnell is a Research Associate Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department of the University of Washington. She received a Ph.D. (EE, 1994) and M.A. (Math, 1989) from UC Berkeley, and an M.S. (EE, 1987) and B.S. (EE, 1985) from UConn. She also holds an MBA (2010) from the UW Foster School of Business.  Her research interests include networked control systems and secure-control. She is a recipient of the US Government Superior Civilian Service Award, NSF ADVANCE Fellowship, and IEEE CSS Recognition Award. She is a Senior Member of the IEEE (1999), and has been a member of the IEEE since 1985, a member of the IEEE CSS since 1990, and a member of the IEEE Women in Engineering since 2013. For IEEE CSS, she currently is a Member of the Board of Governors, a Distinguished Lecturer, a member of the Women in Control Standing Committee, a member of the TC Control Education, a member of the History Committee, and the Liaison to IEEE Women in Engineering. For the American Automatic Control Council (AACC), she currently is the Treasurer and a Member of the Technical Committee on Control Education.

Professor Bushnell’s background is in the area of control systems, notably networked control systems (NCS). She pioneered the area of NCS and has recently developed fundamental work in the new area of secure-control. She is interested in the modeling, control, and security of smart and connected communities (SCC). Tools from NCS and secure-control, such as submodularity, passivity, and model composition, will have huge impact in the SCC area. Example current projects include modeling and mitigating voltage and transient instabilities on the Smart Grid, using passivity-based control for modeling and mitigating cyber attacks on Cyber-physical Systems (CPS), and using submodularity optimization techniques to model and control leader-follower multi-agent systems (Springer book, January 2016).