Exponential parameter and tracking error convergence guarantees for adaptive controllers without persistency of excitation

Girish Chowdhary, Maximilian Mühlegg, Eric Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In model reference adaptive control (MRAC) the modelling uncertainty is often assumed to be parameterised with time-invariant unknown ideal parameters. The convergence of parameters of the adaptive element to these ideal parameters is beneficial, as it guarantees exponential stability, and makes an online learned model of the system available. Most MRAC methods, however, require persistent excitation of the states to guarantee that the adaptive parameters converge to the ideal values. Enforcing PE may be resource intensive and often infeasible in practice. This paper presents theoretical analysis and illustrative examples of an adaptive control method that leverages the increasing ability to record and process data online by using specifically selected and online recorded data concurrently with instantaneous data for adaptation. It is shown that when the system uncertainty can be modelled as a combination of known nonlinear bases, simultaneous exponential tracking and parameter error convergence can be guaranteed if the system states are exciting over finite intervals such that rich data can be recorded online; PE is not required. Furthermore, the rate of convergence is directly proportional to the minimum singular value of the matrix containing online recorded data. Consequently, an online algorithm to record and forget data is presented and its effects on the resulting switched closed-loop dynamics are analysed. It is also shown that when radial basis function neural networks (NNs) are used as adaptive elements, the method guarantees exponential convergence of the NN parameters to a compact neighbourhood of their ideal values without requiring PE. Flight test results on a fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle demonstrate the effectiveness of the method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1583-1603
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Control
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • long-term learning
  • model reference adaptive control
  • neuroadaptive control
  • persistence of excitation
  • robust adaptive control
  • unmanned aerial vehicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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