Section: Research Program

Network systems and graph analysis

This is a research topic at the boundaries between graph theory and dynamical systems theory.

A first main line of research will be to study complex systems whose interactions are modeled with graphs, and to unveil the effect of the graph topology on system-theoretic properties such as observability or controllability. In particular, on-going work concerns observability of graph-based systems: after preliminary results concerning consensus systems over distance-regular graphs, the aim is to extend results to more general networks. A special focus will be on the notion of `generic properties', namely properties which depend only on the underlying graph describing the sparsity pattern, and hold true almost surely with a random choice of the non-zero coefficients. Further work will be to explore situations in which there is the need for new notions different from the classical observability or controllability. For example, in opinion-forming in social networks or in formation of birds flocks, the potential leader might have a goal different from classical controllability. On the one hand, his goal might be much less ambitious than the classical one of driving the system to any possible state (e.g., he might want to drive everybody near its own opinion, only, and not to any combination of different individual opinions), and on the other hand he might have much weaker tools to construct his control input (e.g., he might not know the whole system's dynamics, but only some local partial information). Another example is the question of detectability of an unknown input under the assumption that such an input has a sparsity constraint, a question arising from the fact that a cyber-physical attack might be modeled as an input aiming at controlling the system's state, and that limitations in the capabilities of the attacker might be modeled as a sparsity constraint on the input.

A second line of research will concern graph discovery, namely algorithms aiming at reconstructing some properties of the graph (such as the number of vertices, the diameter, the degree distribution, or spectral properties such as the eigenvalues of the graph Laplacian), using some measurements of quantities related to a dynamical system associated with the graph. It will be particularly challenging to consider directed graphs, and to impose that the algorithm is anonymous, i.e., that it does not makes use of labels identifying the different agents associated with vertices.