Decentralized Control of Networked Systems : Information Asymmetries and Limitations

Abstract: Designing local controllers for networked systems is challenging, because in these systems each local controller can often access only part of the overall information on system parameters and sensor measurements. Traditional control design cannot be easily applied due to the unconventional information patterns, communication network imperfections, and design procedure complexities. How to control large-scale systems is of immediate societal importance as they appear in many emerging applications, such as intelligent transportation systems, smart grids, and energy-efficient buildings. In this thesis, we make three contributions to the problem of designing networked controller under information asymmetries and limitations.In the first contribution, we investigate how to design local controllers to optimize a cost function using only partial knowledge of the model governing the system. Specifically, we derive some fundamental limitations in the closed-loop performance when the design of each controller only relies on local plant model information. Results are characterized in the structure of the networked system as well as in the available model information. Both deterministic and stochastic formulations are considered for the closed-loop performance and the available information. In the second contribution of the thesis, we study decision making in transportation systems using heterogeneous routing and congestion games. It is shown that a desirable global behavior can emerge from simple local strategies used by the drivers to choose departure times and routes. Finally, the third contribution is a novel stochastic sensor scheduling policy for ad-hoc networked systems, where a varying number of control loops are active at any given time. It is shown that the policy provides stochastic guarantees for the network resources dynamically allocated to each loop.