An informational Perspective on Uncertainty in Control

Speaker: Gireeja Ranade, Ph.D
Affiliation: Microsoft Research

High-performance cyber-physical systems rely on many sensors and hardware components for successful operation. Control strategies for these devices require an understanding of how unpredictability in these components might impair performance. Can we quantify the value of adding an extra camera to our system to reduce uncertainty? In this talk, I discuss some theoretical perspectives to understand uncertainty in systems as well as practical protocols to mitigate it.

I will first introduce a notion of “control capacity,” which provides a fundamental limit on the ability to stabilize a system with random time-varying parameters (modeled as multiplicative noise). Further, it can be used to quantify the value of side-information in control (in bits).  I will also contrast systems with noisy actuation (e.g., when motors on a drone cannot precisely execute control actions) to noisy sensing (e.g., miscalibrated cameras). We use techniques from information-theory and probability-theory to show that these systems exhibit surprisingly different behavior — a fact that the linear control perspective does not reveal.

Finally, I will shift from quantifying the effect of uncertainty to developing methods for reducing uncertainty. I will discuss the development of highly-reliable low-latency wireless communication protocols to enable machine-to-machine communication and industrial automation. The talk will include joint work with Jian Ding, Yuval Peres, Govind Ramnarayan, Anant Sahai, Sahaana Suri, Vasuki Narasimha Swamy, and Alex Zhai.

Biography:  Gireeja Ranade is a Researcher at Microsoft Research, Redmond. Before this she was a lecturer in EECS at UC Berkeley working on designing and teaching the pilot version of new lower-division EECS classes (16AB). She received an MS and PhD in EECS from UC Berkeley and an SB in EECS from MIT. She has worked on problems in fake news and misinformation, brain-machine interfaces, information theory, control theory, wireless communications and crowdsourcing.

For more information, contact Prof. Ankur Mehta (

Date(s) - Feb 05, 2018
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Mong Learning Center – EE-VI – #180
404 Westwood Plaza , Los Angeles California 90095