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Everhart Lecture

Monday, April 25, 2016
5:00pm to 6:00pm
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Guggenheim 133 (Lees-Kubota Lecture Hall)
Building and controlling complex interconnected systems
Nikolai Matni, Postdoctoral Scholar in Computing & Mathematical Sciences, Computing & Mathematical Sciences,
The smart grid, the "new" Internet, automated highways and the human sensorimotor control system: all of these massively complex systems can be described in terms of a large number of physically distributed subsystems interacting with each other through local rules.  Even when rules and subsystems are simple, their interconnection can lead to a bewildering set of complex behaviors that scientists are struggling to understand. This talk attempts to understand such systems by taking an engineering approach: how should we build, design and control a system so that it behaves in a desirable, robust and predictable way? 
We first explain why, in general, designing and controlling large-scale distributed systems is computationally hard.  However, if a system is built to satisfy certain architectural properties, then these difficulties are reduced.  Different architectural choices impact the performance, robustness and complexity of a system, and recent research provides a unifying theory of architecture for complex systems that allows this impact to be quantified.  This theory leverages recent deep theoretical results integrating distributed control and optimization, including much novel work unique to our group.  Throughout the talk, we make liberal use of case studies drawn from a wide breadth of application areas, as well as interactive live-demonstrations, to illustrate these theoretical concepts in an accessible, relevant and hopefully entertaining way.

Refreshments available prior to the lecture.

The Everhart Lecture Series is a forum encouraging interdisciplinary interaction among graduate students and faculty, the sharing of ideas about research developments, as well as a space to discuss controversies.  Everhart Lectures allow for the recognition of individual Caltech student's exemplary presentation and research abilities.  Lecturers discuss scientific topics and research topics of concern to graduate students and faculty.

Each Fall, graduate student lecturers are selected to present their ideas as part of a series of lectures.

For more information, please contact Constantine Sideris by phone at (626) 395-6346 or by email at [email protected].