Seminar Title:  Monitoring and Feedback Control of Contemporary Infrastructure Systems: Curbing Uncertainty, Taming Nonlinearity, and Putting Theory to Work

Name and Affiliation:  Ahmad F. Taha, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Seminar Abstract: Conservative projections estimate that a staggering 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. As a result of this and other megatrends shaping and defining the Anthropocene, future cities will need reliable urban infrastructure—systems that are orders of magnitude more superior in every metric than today’s aging, feeble one. In short, today’s most critical infrastructure (i.e., energy, water, and traffic networks) are incapable of meeting future demand of cities. Transitioning to carbon-free power grids, climate-resilient, safe and equitable water systems, as well as autonomous and electrified transportation networks requires action—action that transcends sluggish political change.

Various strategies exist to address the above urban challenges. Compared to policy-driven strategies (e.g., regulation, opening new roads, building power plants), data- and system-theoretic strategies that rely on network science, applied math, engineering, and wireless sensing and actuation technologies strike a much-needed balance between cost and efficiency. In this talk, I will present contemporary research problems in dynamic, urban networks that address two high-level challenges: human-centered uncertainty and physics-based nonlinearity. From a fundamentally new approach of looking at water system management to robust algorithms to controlling instability in renewables-heavy energy systems, the talk will showcase how control and optimization theory produce answers to infrastructure challenges with monumental relevance.

Bio: Ahmad F. Taha is an assistant professor with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Texas, San Antonio (UTSA). He received B.E. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon in 2011 and Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana in 2015. Dr. Taha is interested in understanding how complex cyber-physical, urban infrastructure operate, behave, and occasionally misbehave. His research focus includes optimization, control, and security of dynamic, urban networks with applications to energy, water, and transportation systems. Dr. Taha is an editor of IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, sole editor of the IEEE Control Systems Society (CSS) Electronic Letter, and the chair of the CSS Electronic Information.

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