Spring 2015 MnDRIVE Seminar Series


Michael Demetriou, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Overview of Placement, Allocation, Scheduling and Guidance of Actuators and Sensors in Distributed Parameter Systems

March 2, 2015, 2:30pm; 4-178A Keller Hall


Control systems that are distributed in space offer an added level of optimization and design, namely that of positioning of the control hardware. The number, type and location of actuating and sensing devices constitute important design variables. The location of actuating and sensing devices, as predicted by optimization schemes, may in fact be different than the locations based on physical intuition. Their location has significant effects on the performance of control schemes with direct economic consequences.

An optimally placed sensing device having a smaller error variance will lead to significant reduction in filter design complexity than an array of inexpensive sensing devices with moderate to high error variances. Actuating devices placed at locations that enhance their control authority while ensuring that they have “spatial robustness”, can handle spatiotemporally varying disturbances more effectively. Sensing devices positioned to measure environmental and meteorological processes for a given set of environmental conditions, may become ineffective when the environmental process undergoes significant parametric changes that alter its behavior.

An overview of the above aspects of control hardware selection will be discussed along with the various approaches employed in the last 40+ years. Linking the positioning of sensing and actuating devices to the current directions in control systems, namely networked systems, some results on the scheduling and motion of sensor and actuator networks will be discussed. Among the examples presented are both numerical and experimental results for a thermal processing of materials problem and for a vibration suppression problem.


Michael Demetriou is currently a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at WPI. He obtained his PhD degree from USC in EE-Systems in 1993. He served as an Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, the ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement, and Control and the SIAM Journal on Control and Optimization. His current research interests include optimization and control of mobile sensor and actuator networks in spatially distributed systems with applications to intrusion detection and containment.