Optimal actuator design for minimizing the worst-case control energy

Xudong Chen, M. A. Belabbas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We consider the actuator design problem for linear systems. Specifically, we aim to identify an actuator which requires the least amount of control energy to drive the system from an arbitrary initial condition to the origin in the worst case. Said otherwise, we investigate the minimax problem of minimizing the control energy over the worst possible initial conditions. Recall that the least amount of control energy needed to drive a linear controllable system from any initial condition on the unit sphere to the origin is upper-bounded by the inverse of the smallest eigenvalue of the associated controllability Gramian, and moreover, the upper-bound is sharp. The minimax problem can be thus viewed as the optimization problem of minimizing the upper-bound via an actuator design. In spite of its simple and natural formulation, this problem is difficult to solve. In fact, properties such as the stability of the system matrix, which are not related to controllability, now play important roles. We focus in this paper on the special case where the system matrix is positive definite (and hence the system is completely unstable). Under this assumption, we are able to provide a complete solution to the optimal actuator design problem and highlight the difficulty in solving the general problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9991-9996
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Linear control system
  • Matrix analysis
  • Minimax problem
  • Optimal actuator design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering

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