3 questions to Dragan Nesic: professor of electrical and electronic engineering and Doctor Honoris Causa of the Université de Lorraine

What are your relationships with CRAN and the Université de Lorraine and since when do they exist?


I have visited CRAN five times over the past 10 years and they were all monthly visits. I currently hold a professor@Lorraine position (2017-2020) at the University of Lorraine and work closely with Dr Romain Postoyan, Prof. Jamaal Daafouz, Prof. Constantin Morarescu and Dr Vineeth Varma. The collaborations started more than 10 years ago when Romain Postoyan visited me at the University of Melbourne when he was still a PhD student. I was very impressed by him and offered him a postdoctoral position at the University of Melbourne and we continued to collaborate ever since and visited each other a number of times. During my visits I started collaborations with other researchers in the lab including some that have moved on to other universities (Daniele Astolfi, Samuel Martin, Lucian Busoniu). I consider my collaboration with CRAN one of my most fruitful and successful research collaborations in my career.

What does this honorific doctorate mean to you?

I am very humbled by this honor and feel even more as a part of the Université de Lorraine. The UL visiting professorship position that I hold has enabled me to collaborate closely with CRAN researchers and I have already felt that I am a part of this group; my visits during the past 10 years have always been fruitful, inspiring and immensely enjoyable. The Honorific Doctorate strengthens and formalizes my relationship with UL which I regard as an honor, as well as a responsibility to promote UL and its exceptional staff that I was fortunate to work with.

What are your current research projects, in particular those involving CRAN members?

Much of my research revolves around networked control systems. Increasing number of applications require control loops to be closed via unreliable and/or wireless communication networks, such as vehicle platoons, smart highways, smart grid, swarms of drones, and so on; we refer to such systems as networked control systems. The communication in the control loop typically introduces undesirable effects that need to be mitigated through careful control design. I collaborate with Dr Romain Postoyan, Prof. Jamaal Daafouz, Prof. Constantin Morarescu and Dr Vineeth Varma from CRAN laboratory on various aspects of networked control systems design.  For instance, with Dr Postoyan we are exploring the so-called event-triggered control that can be used when one wants to minimise the usage of the communication network while maintaining a required level of control performance. Another project is optimization-based control that is increasingly used in reinforcement learning; this control paradigm will enable networked systems to operate more autonomously. This work is done in collaboration with Dr Postoyan and Prof. Daafouz. An important application of networked control system theory are multi-agent systems that arise in robotics, transport or social networks, where we investigate their various dynamical properties, such as consensus. This work is done in collaboration with Prof. Morarescu and Dr Varma.


Title: Control engineering: an introduction

Abstract: In this talk, I will illustrate how control engineering has shaped the world over the centuries and how it interacted with natural sciences and technology to become one of the pillars of engineering. The basic concepts from control theory will be presented and they will be illustrated by examples and several success stories that are largely invisible to the public. I will also present a personal view of the history of this discipline. I will summarize how it interacted with physics, mathematics and various technological advancements to evolve into a mature disciple that is widely applicable to problems ranging from internal combustion engines and smart highways to artificial pancreas and social networks.