Publications about 'gradient systems' |
Articles in journal or book chapters |
This paper studies the effect of perturbations on the gradient flow of a general constrained nonlinear programming problem, where the perturbation may arise from inaccurate gradient estimation in the setting of data-driven optimization. Under suitable conditions on the objective function, the perturbed gradient flow is shown to be small-disturbance input-to-state stable (ISS), which implies that, in the presence of a small-enough perturbation, the trajectory of the perturbed gradient flow must eventually enter a small neighborhood of the optimum. This work was motivated by the question of robustness of direct methods for the linear quadratic regulator problem, and specifically the analysis of the effect of perturbations caused by gradient estimation or round-off errors in policy optimization. Interestingly, we show small-disturbance ISS for three of the most common optimization algorithms: standard gradient flow, natural gradient flow, and Newton gradient flow. |
Motivated by the growing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools in control design, this paper takes the first steps towards bridging the gap between results from Direct Gradient methods for the Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR), and neural networks. More specifically, it looks into the case where one wants to find a Linear Feed-Forward Neural Network (LFFNN) feedback that minimizes a LQR cost. This paper starts by computing the gradient formulas for the parameters of each layer, which are used to derive a key conservation law of the system. This conservation law is then leveraged to prove boundedness and global convergence of solutions to critical points, and invariance of the set of stabilizing networks under the training dynamics. This is followed by an analysis of the case where the LFFNN has a single hidden layer. For this case, the paper proves that the training converges not only to critical points but to the optimal feedback control law for all but a set of measure-zero of the initializations. These theoretical results are followed by an extensive analysis of a simple version of the problem (the ``vector case''), proving the theoretical properties of accelerated convergence and robustness for this simpler example. Finally, the paper presents numerical evidence of faster convergence of the training of general LFFNNs when compared to traditional direct gradient methods, showing that the acceleration of the solution is observable even when the gradient is not explicitly computed but estimated from evaluations of the cost function. |
Recent work on data-driven control and reinforcement learning has renewed interest in a relatively old field in control theory: model-free optimal control approaches which work directly with a cost function and do not rely upon perfect knowledge of a system model. Instead, an "oracle" returns an estimate of the cost associated to, for example, a proposed linear feedback law to solve a linear-quadratic regulator problem. This estimate, and an estimate of the gradient of the cost, might be obtained by performing experiments on the physical system being controlled. This motivates in turn the analysis of steepest descent algorithms and their associated gradient differential equations. This paper studies the effect of errors in the estimation of the gradient, framed in the language of input to state stability, where the input represents a perturbation from the true gradient. Since one needs to study systems evolving on proper open subsets of Euclidean space, a self-contained review of input to state stability definitions and theorems for systems that evolve on such sets is included. The results are then applied to the study of noisy gradient systems, as well as the associated steepest descent algorithms. |
Conference articles |
Motivated by the current interest in using Artificial intelligence (AI) tools in control design, this paper takes the first steps towards bridging results from gradient methods for solving the LQR control problem, and neural networks. More specifically, it looks into the case where one wants to find a Linear Feed-Forward Neural Network (LFFNN) that minimizes the Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR) cost. This work develops gradient formulas that can be used to implement the training of LFFNNs to solve the LQR problem, and derives an important conservation law of the system. This conservation law is then leveraged to prove global convergence of solutions and invariance of the set of stabilizing networks under the training dynamics. These theoretical results are then followed by and extensive analysis of the simplest version of the problem (the ``scalar case'') and by numerical evidence of faster convergence of the training of general LFFNNs when compared to traditional direct gradient methods. These results not only serve as indication of the theoretical value of studying such a problem, but also of the practical value of LFFNNs as design tools for data-driven control applications. |
Recent research in neural networks and machine learning suggests that using many more parameters than strictly required by the initial complexity of a regression problem can result in more accurate or faster-converging models -- contrary to classical statistical belief. This phenomenon, sometimes known as ``benign overfitting'', raises questions regarding in what other ways might overparameterization affect the properties of a learning problem. In this work, we investigate the effects of overfitting on the robustness of gradient-descent training when subject to uncertainty on the gradient estimation. This uncertainty arises naturally if the gradient is estimated from noisy data or directly measured. Our object of study is a linear neural network with a single, arbitrarily wide, hidden layer and an arbitrary number of inputs and outputs. In this paper we solve the problem for the case where the input and output of our neural-network are one-dimensional, deriving sufficient conditions for robustness of our system based on necessary and sufficient conditions for convergence in the undisturbed case. We then show that the general overparametrized formulation introduces a set of spurious equilibria which lay outside the set where the loss function is minimized, and discuss directions of future work that might extend our current results for more general formulations. |
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