Multi-agent based control of large-scale complex systems employing distributed dynamic inference engine
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Increasing societal demand for automation has led to considerable efforts to control large-scale complex systems, especially in the area of autonomous intelligent control methods. The control system of a large-scale complex system needs to satisfy four system level requirements: robustness, flexibility, reusability, and scalability. Corresponding to the four system level requirements, there arise four major challenges. First, it is difficult to get accurate and complete information. Second, the system may be physically highly distributed. Third, the system evolves very quickly. Fourth, emergent global behaviors of the system can be caused by small disturbances at the component level. The Multi-Agent Based Control (MABC) method as an implementation of distributed intelligent control has been the focus of research since the 1970s, in an effort to solve the above-mentioned problems in controlling large-scale complex systems. However, to the author's best knowledge, all MABC systems for large-scale complex systems with significant uncertainties are problem-specific and thus difficult to extend to other domains or larger systems. This situation is partly due to the control architecture of multiple agents being determined by agent to agent coupling and interaction mechanisms. Therefore, the research objective of this dissertation is to develop a comprehensive, generalized framework for the control system design of general large-scale complex systems with significant uncertainties, with the focus on distributed control architecture design and distributed inference engine design. A Hybrid Multi-Agent Based Control (HyMABC) architecture is proposed by combining hierarchical control architecture and module control architecture with logical replication rings. First, it decomposes a complex system hierarchically; second, it combines the components in the same level as a module, and then designs common interfaces for all of the components in the same module; third, replications are made for critical agents and are organized into logical rings. This architecture maintains clear guidelines for complexity decomposition and also increases the robustness of the whole system. Multiple Sectioned Dynamic Bayesian Networks (MSDBNs) as a distributed dynamic probabilistic inference engine, can be embedded into the control architecture to handle uncertainties of general large-scale complex systems. MSDBNs decomposes a large knowledge-based system into many agents. Each agent holds its partial perspective of a large problem domain by representing its knowledge as a Dynamic Bayesian Network (DBN). Each agent accesses local evidence from its corresponding local sensors and communicates with other agents through finite message passing. If the distributed agents can be organized into a tree structure, satisfying the running intersection property and d-sep set requirements, globally consistent inferences are achievable in a distributed way. By using different frequencies for local DBN agent belief updating and global system belief updating, it balances the communication cost with the global consistency of inferences. In this dissertation, a fully factorized Boyen-Koller (BK) approximation algorithm is used for local DBN agent belief updating, and the static Junction Forest Linkage Tree (JFLT) algorithm is used for global system belief updating. MSDBNs assume a static structure and a stable communication network for the whole system. However, for a real system, sub-Bayesian networks as nodes could be lost, and the communication network could be shut down due to partial damage in the system. Therefore, on-line and automatic MSDBNs structure formation is necessary for making robust state estimations and increasing survivability of the whole system. A Distributed Spanning Tree Optimization (DSTO) algorithm, a Distributed D-Sep Set Satisfaction (DDSSS) algorithm, and a Distributed Running Intersection Satisfaction (DRIS) algorithm are proposed in this dissertation. Combining these three distributed algorithms and a Distributed Belief Propagation (DBP) algorithm in MSDBNs makes state estimations robust to partial damage in the whole system. Combining the distributed control architecture design and the distributed inference engine design leads to a process of control system design for a general large-scale complex system. As applications of the proposed methodology, the control system design of a simplified ship chilled water system and a notional ship chilled water system have been demonstrated step by step. Simulation results not only show that the proposed methodology gives a clear guideline for control system design for general large-scale complex systems with dynamic and uncertain environment, but also indicate that the combination of MSDBNs and HyMABC can provide excellent performance for controlling general large-scale complex systems.