Computing That Serves

Shaping the Dynamics of Modern Infrastructure and Autonomous-Agent Networks using Limited Resources


Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 11:00am


Sandip Roy
Assistant Professor, School of EE&CS, Washington State University

The next time your flight from Salt Lake City is delayed, you may be astounded to hear that the following sequence of events led to the delay: 1) an adventurous squirrel shorted out a transformer in San Diego, causing a cascading power outage (and incidentally also starting a grass fire that closed a school); 2) the power outage impacted the computer system at Los Angeles airport, causing the airport to close for an hour (and also shutting down a grocery store's refrigerator and so fomenting a salmonella outbreak); 3) the resulting backlog throughout the air traffic system caused your aircraft to be delayed.  The increasing frequency of such bizarre events highlights that our infrastructures are becoming increasingly interconnected and stressed, and that this high connectivity is leading to increasingly far-reaching dynamical responses in the infrastructures.  In this talk, I contend that tools for shaping these global dynamics of infrastructure networks are badly needed, and introduce several strategies for shaping network dynamics using limited resources.  Fundamentally, these various design strategies permit shaping of the network's dynamics in the face of severe constraints and variations, by exploiting the interconnection (or graph) structure of the network.

Two infrastructure-network applications of our design strategies, in virus-spreading control and air traffic management, are pursued in the talk.  Complementarily, allocation of scarce resources to shape dynamics is also valuable for numerous networked communication and computation processes; I also briefly introduce applications of our tools in these fields.  Finally, I describe my group's future plans, including some exciting undergraduate- and graduate- student projects that were pursuing under the auspices of a course entitled "Network Structure, Dynamics, and Control".


I received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1998, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000 and 2003, respectively.  Since 2003, I have worked as an Assistant Professor at the Washington State University (WSU).  During my time at WSU, I have also held various outside summer appointments, including at the University of Wisconsin and NASA's Ames Research Center. My research is focused on the control and design of complex dynamical networks, with application to air traffic control, sensor networking, and systems biology problems.