PhD Thesis

The Role of Population Games in the Design of Optimization-based Controllers: A Large-scale Insight

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  • Started: 15/05/2014
  • Finished: 17/05/2017


This thesis is mainly devoted to the study of the role of evolutionary-game theory in the design of distributed optimization-based controllers. Game theoretical approaches have been used in several engineering fields, e.g., drainage wastewater systems, bandwidth allocation, wireless networks, cyber security, congestion games, wind turbines, temperature control, among others. On the other hand, a specific class of games, known as population games, have been mainly used in the design of controllers to manage a limited resource. This game approach is suitable for resource allocation problems since, under the framework of full-potential games, the population games can satisfy a unique coupled constraint while maximizing a potential function.

First, this thesis discusses how the classical approach of the population games can contribute and complement the design of optimization-based controllers. Therefore, this dissertation assigns special interest on how the features of the population-game approach can be exploited extending their capabilities in the solution of distributed optimization problems. In addition, density games are studied in order to consider multiple coupled constraints and preserving the non-centralized information requirements. Furthermore, a close relationship is established between the possible interactions among agents in a population with the constrained information sharing among different local controllers. On the other hand, coalitional games are discussed focusing on the Shapley power index. This power index has been used to assign an appropriate rewarding to players in function of their contributions to all possible coalitions. Even though this power index is quite useful in the engineering context, since it involves notions of textit{fairness} and/or relevance (how important players are), the main difficulty of the implementation of the Shapley value in engineering applications is related to the high computational burden. Therefore, this dissertation studies the Shapley value in order to propose an alternative manner to compute it reducing computational time, and a different way to find it by using distributed communication structures is presented.

The studied game theoretical approaches are suitable for the modeling of rational agents involved in a strategic constrained interaction, following local rules and making local decisions in order to achieve a global objective. Making an analogy, distributed optimization-based controllers are composed of local controllers that compute optimal inputs based on local information (constrained interactions with other local controllers) in order to achieve a global control objective. In addition to this analogy, the features that relate the Nash equilibrium with the Karush-Kuhn-Tucker conditions for a constrained optimization problem are exploited for the design of optimization-based controllers, more specifically, for the design of model predictive controllers. Moreover, the design of non-centralized controllers is directly related to the partitioning of a system, i.e., it is necessary to represent the whole system as the composition of multiple sub-systems. This task is not a trivial procedure since several considerations should be taken into account, e.g., availability of information, dynamical coupling in the system, regularity in the amount of variables for each sub-system, among others. Then, this doctoral dissertation also discusses the partitioning problem for large-scale systems and the role that this procedure plays in the design of distributed optimization-based controllers. Finally, dynamical partitioning strategies are presented with distributed population-games-based controllers.

Some engineering applications are presented to illustrate and test the performance of all the proposed control strategies based on game theoretical approaches, i.e., the Barcelona water supply network, multiple continuous stirred tank reactors, system of multiple unmanned aerial vehicles, and a water distribution system.

The work is under the scope of the following projects:

  • EFFINET: EFFicient Integrated real-time monitoring and control of drinking water NETworks (web)
  • ECOCIS: EConomic Operation of Critical Infrastructure Systems (web)