Qualitative Modeling and Heterogeneous Control of Global System Behavior
Multiple model approaches to the control of complex dynamical systems are attractive because the local models can be simple and intuitive, and global behavior can be analyzed in terms of transitions among local operating regions. In this paper, we argue that the use of qualitative models further improves the strengths of the multiple model approach by allowing each local model to describe a large class of useful non-linear dynamical systems. In addition, reasoning with qualitative models naturally identifies weak sufficient conditions adequate to prove qualitative properties such as stability. We demonstrate our approach by building a global controller for the free pendulum. We specify and validate local controllers by matching their structures to simple generic qualitative models. This process identifies qualitative constraints on the controller designs, sufficient to guarantee the desired local properties and to determine the possible transitions between local regions. This, in turn, allows the continuous phase portrait to be abstracted to a simple transition graph. The degrees of freedom in the design that are unconstrained by the qualitative description remain available for optimization by the designer for any other purpose.
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