Error Correcting Codes for Distributed Control

Ravi Teja Sukhavasi, Babak Hassibi

The problem of stabilizing an unstable plant over a noisy communication link is an increasingly important one that arises in applications of networked control systems. Although the work of Schulman and Sahai over the past two decades, and their development of the notions of "tree codes"\phantom{} and "anytime capacity", provides the theoretical framework for studying such problems, there has been scant practical progress in this area because explicit constructions of tree codes with efficient encoding and decoding did not exist. To stabilize an unstable plant driven by bounded noise over a noisy channel one needs real-time encoding and real-time decoding and a reliability which increases exponentially with decoding delay, which is what tree codes guarantee. We prove that linear tree codes occur with high probability and, for erasure channels, give an explicit construction with an expected decoding complexity that is constant per time instant. We give novel sufficient conditions on the rate and reliability required of the tree codes to stabilize vector plants and argue that they are asymptotically tight. This work takes an important step towards controlling plants over noisy channels, and we demonstrate the efficacy of the method through several examples.

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