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Mechanical and Civil Engineering Seminar

Thursday, February 8, 2024
11:00am to 12:00pm
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Gates-Thomas 135
Contraction Theory for Optimization, Control, and Neural Networks
Francesco Bullo, Distinguished Professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara,

Mechanical and Civil Engineering Seminar Series

Title: Contraction Theory for Optimization, Control, and Neural Networks

Abstract: I survey recent progress on the development of contraction theory for dynamical systems, as a robust and computationally-friendly stability theory. Starting from basic notions, I will present novel theoretical developments and examples of contracting dynamics, including gradient systems, constrained optimization solvers, and multiplayer games. As first application I will discuss online feedback optimization, where a dynamic plant is interconnected with a controller based on first-order optimization methods. Second, I will discuss the contractivity properties of recurrent neural networks and briefly review applications to unsupervised representation learning, implicit learning models, and reservoir computing.

Bio: Francesco Bullo is a Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA. He was previously with the University of Padova (Laurea degree, 1994), Italy, the California Institute of Technology (Ph.D. degree, 1998), Pasadena, CA, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA. His research interests include contraction theory, network systems, and distributed control. He is the author or coauthor of Geometric Control of Mechanical Systems (Springer, 2004), Distributed Control of Robotic Networks (Princeton, 2009), Lectures on Network Systems (KDP, 2022), and Contraction Theory for Dynamical Systems (KDP, 2023). He served as IEEE CSS President and SIAG CST Chair. He is a Fellow of ASME, IEEE, IFAC, and SIAM.

NOTE: At this time, in-person Mechanical and Civil Engineering Lectures are open to all Caltech students/staff/faculty/visitors.

For more information, please contact Kristen Bazua by phone at (626) 395-3385 or by email at [email protected] or visit