Published: Oct. 24, 2019

Xudong ChenAssistant Professor Xudong Chen has won a prestigious young investigator grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for his control theory work.

The grant – worth $450,000 over three years – will help Chen develop a novel and comprehensive framework for control and estimation of extremely large scale multi-agent systems using only a few control inputs and measurement outputs.

“The research in the area, especially the area of ensemble estimation, is new,” Chen said. “The award will allow me to establish theoretical foundations for developing the framework which include new methodologies, control-theoretical results and computational tools.”

Multi-agent systems are ubiquitous in science and engineering, he said. Examples include groups of unmanned aerial vehicles working together to accomplish a task, social networks or the embedded systems in “smart” materials.

But the bigger the system, the more control inputs and measurement outputs it takes to control them, making scalability a challenge. The framework Chen proposes would use ensemble control and estimation theory to limit the inputs and outputs.

“It will enable us to control a multi-agent system of arbitrarily large size but with fixed numbers of control inputs and measurement outputs,” he said. “The numbers of inputs and outputs do not need to grow with the size of the multi-agent system anymore.”

Chen was one of 40 scientists and engineers who received the grant for 2020. The goal of the AFOSR Young Investigator Research Program is “to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators, and increase opportunities for the young investigators to recognize the Air Force mission and the related challenges in science and engineering.”