Westenbroek, Tyler, Mazumdar, Eric, Fridovich-Keil, David, Prabhu, Valmik, Tomlin, Claire J., Sastry, S. Shankar

This paper proposes a framework for adaptively learning a feedback linearization-based tracking controller for an unknown system using discrete-time model-free policy-gradient parameter update rules. The primary advantage of the scheme over standard model-reference adaptive control techniques is that it does not require the learned inverse model to be invertible at all instances of time. This enables the use of general function approximators to approximate the linearizing controller for the system without having to worry about singularities. However, the discrete-time and stochastic nature of these algorithms precludes the direct application of standard machinery from the adaptive control literature to provide deterministic stability proofs for the system. Nevertheless, we leverage these techniques alongside tools from the stochastic approximation literature to demonstrate that with high probability the tracking and parameter errors concentrate near zero when a certain persistence of excitation condition is satisfied. A simulated example of a double pendulum demonstrates the utility of the proposed theory. 1 I. INTRODUCTION Many real-world control systems display nonlinear behaviors which are difficult to model, necessitating the use of control architectures which can adapt to the unknown dynamics online while maintaining certificates of stability. There are many successful model-based strategies for adaptively constructing controllers for uncertain systems [1], [2], [3], but these methods often require the presence of a simple, reasonably accurate parametric model of the system dynamics. Recently, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in the use of model-free reinforcement learning techniques to construct feedback controllers without the need for a reliable dynamics model [4], [5], [6]. As these methods begin to be deployed in real world settings, a new theory is needed to understand the behavior of these algorithms as they are integrated into safety-critical control loops.

Lale, Sahin, Azizzadenesheli, Kamyar, Hassibi, Babak, Anandkumar, Anima

One of the core challenges in the field of control theory and reinforcement learning is adaptive control. It is the problem of controlling dynamical systems when the dynamics of the systems are unknown to the decision-making agents. In adaptive control, agents interact with given systems in order to explore and control them while the long-term objective is to minimize the overall average associated costs. The agent has to balance between exploration and exploitation, learn the dynamics, strategize for further exploration, and exploit the estimation to minimize the overall costs. The sequential nature of agent-system interaction results in challenges in the system identifying, estimation, and control under uncertainty, and these challenges are magnified when the systems are partially observable, i.e. contain hidden underlying dynamics. In the linear systems, when the underlying dynamics are fully observable, the asymptotic optimality of estimation methods has been the topic of study in the last decades [Lai et al., 1982, Lai and Wei, 1987]. Recently, novel techniques and learning algorithms have been developed to study the finite-time behavior of adaptive control algorithms and shed light on the design of optimal methods [Peña et al., 2009, Fiechter, 1997, Abbasi-Yadkori and Szepesvári, 2011]. In particular, Abbasi-Yadkori and Szepesvári [2011] proposes to use the principle of optimism in the face of uncertainty (OFU) to balance exploration and exploitation in LQR, where the state of the system is observable.

Gravell, Benjamin, Summers, Tyler

Despite decades of research and recent progress in adaptive control and reinforcement learning, there remains a fundamental lack of understanding in designing controllers that provide robustness to inherent non-asymptotic uncertainties arising from models estimated with finite, noisy data. We propose a robust adaptive control algorithm that explicitly incorporates such non-asymptotic uncertainties into the control design. The algorithm has three components: (1) a least-squares nominal model estimator; (2) a bootstrap resampling method that quantifies non-asymptotic variance of the nominal model estimate; and (3) a non-conventional robust control design method using an optimal linear quadratic regulator (LQR) with multiplicative noise. A key advantage of the proposed approach is that the system identification and robust control design procedures both use stochastic uncertainty representations, so that the actual inherent statistical estimation uncertainty directly aligns with the uncertainty the robust controller is being designed against. We show through numerical experiments that the proposed robust adaptive controller can significantly outperform the certainty equivalent controller on both expected regret and measures of regret risk.

Dean, Sarah, Mania, Horia, Matni, Nikolai, Recht, Benjamin, Tu, Stephen

We consider adaptive control of the Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR), where an unknown linear system is controlled subject to quadratic costs. Leveraging recent developments in the estimation of linear systems and in robust controller synthesis, we present the first provably polynomial time algorithm that achieves sub-linear regret on this problem. We further study the interplay between regret minimization and parameter estimation by proving a lower bound on the expected regret in terms of the exploration schedule used by any algorithm. Finally, we conduct a numerical study comparing our robust adaptive algorithm to other methods from the adaptive LQR literature, and demonstrate the flexibility of our proposed method by extending it to a demand forecasting problem subject to state constraints. Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.

Simchowitz, Max, Singh, Karan, Hazan, Elad

We consider the problem of controlling a possibly unknown linear dynamical system with adversarial perturbations, adversarially chosen convex loss functions, and partially observed states, known as non-stochastic control. We introduce a controller parametrization based on the denoised observations, and prove that applying online gradient descent to this parametrization yields a new controller which attains sublinear regret vs. a large class of closed-loop policies. In the fully-adversarial setting, our controller attains an optimal regret bound of $\sqrt{T}$-when the system is known, and, when combined with an initial stage of least-squares estimation, $T^{2/3}$ when the system is unknown; both yield the first sublinear regret for the partially observed setting. Our bounds are the first in the non-stochastic control setting that compete with \emph{all} stabilizing linear dynamical controllers, not just state feedback. Moreover, in the presence of semi-adversarial noise containing both stochastic and adversarial components, our controller attains the optimal regret bounds of $\mathrm{poly}(\log T)$ when the system is known, and $\sqrt{T}$ when unknown. To our knowledge, this gives the first end-to-end $\sqrt{T}$ regret for online Linear Quadratic Gaussian controller, and applies in a more general setting with adversarial losses and semi-adversarial noise.

Lutter, Michael, Belousov, Boris, Listmann, Kim, Clever, Debora, Peters, Jan

Learning optimal feedback control laws capable of executing optimal trajectories is essential for many robotic applications. Such policies can be learned using reinforcement learning or planned using optimal control. While reinforcement learning is sample inefficient, optimal control only plans an optimal trajectory from a specific starting configuration. In this paper we propose deep optimal feedback control to learn an optimal feedback policy rather than a single trajectory. By exploiting the inherent structure of the robot dynamics and strictly convex action cost, we can derive principled cost functions such that the optimal policy naturally obeys the action limits, is globally optimal and stable on the training domain given the optimal value function. The corresponding optimal value function is learned end-to-end by embedding a deep differential network in the Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellmann differential equation and minimizing the error of this equality while simultaneously decreasing the discounting from short- to far-sighted to enable the learning. Our proposed approach enables us to learn an optimal feedback control law in continuous time, that in contrast to existing approaches generates an optimal trajectory from any point in state-space without the need of replanning. The resulting approach is evaluated on non-linear systems and achieves optimal feedback control, where standard optimal control methods require frequent replanning.

Pham, Dung Tien, Van Nguyen, Thai, Le, Hai Xuan, Nguyen, Linh, Thai, Nguyen Huu, Phan, Tuan Anh, Pham, Hai Tuan, Duong, Anh Hoai

For instance, dual arm manipulators have been effectively employed in a diversity of tasks including assembling a car, grasping and transporting an object or nursing the elderly [7]. In those scenarios, the DAR have been expected to behave like a human, which is they should be able to manipulate an object similarly to what a person does [3]. As compared to a single arm robot, the DAR have significant advantages such as more flexible movements, higher precision and greater dexterity for handling large objects [8, 9]. Nevertheless, since the kinematic and dynamic models of the DAR system are much more complicated than those of a single arm robot, it has more challenges to effectively and efficiently control the DAR, where synchronously coordinating the robot arms are highly expected. In order to accurately and stabily track the robot arms along desired trajectories, a number of the control strategies have been proposed. For instance, the traditional methods such as nonlinear feedback control [10] or hybrid force/position control relied on the kinematics and statics [11, 12] have been proposed to simultaneously control both of the arms. In the works [13, 14, 15], the authors have proposed to utilize the impedance control by considering the dynamic interaction between the robot and its surrounding environment while guaranteeing the desired movements. More importantly, robustness of the control performance is also highly prioritized in consideration of designing a controller for a highly uncertain and nonlinear DAR system. In literature of the modern control theory, sliding mode control (SMC) demonstrates a diverse ability to robustly control any system.

Dean, Sarah, Mania, Horia, Matni, Nikolai, Recht, Benjamin, Tu, Stephen

We consider adaptive control of the Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR), where an unknown linear system is controlled subject to quadratic costs. Leveraging recent developments in the estimation of linear systems and in robust controller synthesis, we present the first provably polynomial time algorithm that provides high probability guarantees of sub-linear regret on this problem. We further study the interplay between regret minimization and parameter estimation by proving a lower bound on the expected regret in terms of the exploration schedule used by any algorithm. Finally, we conduct a numerical study comparing our robust adaptive algorithm to other methods from the adaptive LQR literature, and demonstrate the flexibility of our proposed method by extending it to a demand forecasting problem subject to state constraints.

Dean, Sarah, Mania, Horia, Matni, Nikolai, Recht, Benjamin, Tu, Stephen

Freda, Luigi, Gianni, Mario, Pirri, Fiora

Abstract-- This work presents a methodology to design trajectory tracking feedback control laws, which embed nonparametric statistical models, such as Gaussian Processes (GPs). The aim is to minimize unmodeled dynamics such as undesired slippages. The proposed approach has the benefit of avoiding complex terramechanics analysis to directly estimate from data the robot dynamics on a wide class of trajectories. Experiments in both real and simulated environments prove that the proposed methodology is promising. In the last decades, an increasing interest has been devoted to the design of high performance path tracking. In the literature, three main approaches to face this problem have emerged: (i) model-based and adaptive control [1]-[5]; (ii) Gaussian Processes or stochastic nonlinear models for reinforcement learning of control policies [6], [7], and (iii) nominal models and data-driven estimation of the residual [8], [9].