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Section: Application Domains

Third axis: Stability and uncertain dynamics

Switched and hybrid systems constitute a broad framework for the description of the heterogeneous aspects of systems in which continuous dynamics (typically pertaining to physical quantities) interact with discrete/logical components. The development of the switched and hybrid paradigm has been motivated by a broad range of applications, including automotive and transportation industry [142], energy management [135] and congestion control [126].

Even if both controllability [146] and observability [114] of switched and hybrid systems have attracted much research efforts, the central role in their study is played by the problem of stability and stabilizability. The goal is to determine whether a dynamical or a control system whose evolution is influenced by a time-dependent signal is uniformly stable or can be uniformly stabilized [119], [147]. Uniformity is considered with respect to all signals in a given class. Stability of switched systems lead to several interesting phenomena. For example, even when all the subsystems corresponding to a constant switching law are exponentially stable, the switched systems may have divergent trajectories for certain switching signals [118]. This fact illustrates the fact that stability of switched systems depends not only on the dynamics of each subsystem but also on the properties of the class of switching signals which is considered.

The most common class of switching signals which has been considered in the literature is made of all piecewise constant signals. In this case uniform stability of the system is equivalent to the existence of a common quadratic Lyapunov function [129]. Moreover, provided that the system has finitely many modes, the Lyapunov function can be taken polyhedral or polynomial [80], [81], [103]. A special role in the switched control literature has been played by common quadratic Lyapunov functions, since their existence can be tested rather efficiently (see the surveys [121], [141] and the references therein). It is known, however, that the existence of a common quadratic Lyapunov function is not necessary for the global uniform exponential stability of a linear switched system with finitely many modes. Moreover, there exists no uniform upper bound on the minimal degree of a common polynomial Lyapunov function [124]. More refined tools rely on multiple and non-monotone Lyapunov functions [91]. Let us also mention linear switched systems technics based on the analysis of the Lie algebra generated by the matrices corresponding to the modes of the system [67].

For systems evolving in the plane, more geometrical tests apply, and yield a complete characterization of the stability [84], [73]. Such a geometric approach also yields sufficient conditions for uniform stability in the linear planar case [87].

In many situations, it is interesting for modeling purposes to specify the features of the switched system by introducing constrained switching rules. A typical constraint is that each mode is activated for at least a fixed minimal amount of time, called the dwell-time. Switching rules can also be imposed, for instance, by a timed automata. When constraints apply, the common Lyapunov function approach becomes conservative and new tools have to be developed to give more detailed characterizations of stable and unstable systems.

Our approach to constrained switching is based on the idea of relating the analytical properties of the classes of constrained switching laws (shift-invariance, compactness, closure under concatenation, ...) to the stability behavior of the corresponding switched systems. One can introduce probabilistic uncertainties by endowing the classes of admissible signals with suitable probability measures. One then looks at the corresponding Lyapunov exponents, whose existence is established by the multiplicative ergodic theorem. The interest of this approach is that probabilistic stability analysis filters out highly `exceptional' worst-case trajectories. Although less explicitly characterized from a dynamical viewpoint than its deterministic counterpart, the probabilistic notion of uniform exponential stability can be studied using several reformulations of Lyapunov exponents proposed in the literature [78], [98], [155].