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Seminar: Control Engineering for Smart Cities: Curbing Uncertainty, Taming Nonlinearity, and Putting Theory to Work

March 28 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Presented by  Ahmad F. Taha, Associate Professor, Vanderbilt University

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 ones. 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, replacing deteriorating pipes), data- and system-theoretic strategies that rely on network science, applied math, control 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 transportation systems and renewables-heavy energy systems, the talk will showcase how control and optimization theory produce answers to infrastructure challenges with monumental relevance.


March 28
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


C2SMART Center Viz Lab
6 Metrotech Center, Room 460
Brooklyn, 11201
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