itle: Mixed Centralized/Decentralized Coordination Protocols for Multi-agent Systems
Dr. Magnus Egerstedt, ECE, Chair , Advisor
Dr. Yorai Wardi, ECE, Co-Advisor
Dr. Aaron Ames, ECE
Dr. Jeff Shamma, ECE
Dr. Mark Davenport, ECE
Dr. Eric Feron, AE
The objective of this research is to develop coordination strategies for multi-agent systems that use a mixture of centralized and decentralized architectures and algorithms. Conventionally, centralized and decentralized methods are regarded as distinct paradigms, each with its own features and drawbacks, and multi-agent coordination algorithms are typically classified as being exclusively one or the other. However, emerging technologies such as cloud computing make it feasible to incorporate some centralization into an otherwise decentralized system, and one may ask how to embrace this mix of centralized and decentralized information that is rapidly being integrated into various systems such as the smart power grid, teams of robots, and cyber-physical systems. To address this question, two problem domains are considered. The first is that of asynchronous coordination, in which agents generate and share information with arbitrary timing. The second concerns private coordination, in which teams of agents must work together without revealing sensitive information. In both cases, the mixture of centralized and decentralized information enables successful coordination despite the challenges imposed by asynchrony and privacy, and theoretical performance guarantees are derived in both cases. Complementing these theoretical developments, robotic experiments are included that demonstrate the utility of these algorithms in practice.