Publications by Eduardo D. Sontag in year 2023 |
Articles in journal or book chapters |
In previous work, we have developed an approach to understanding the long-term dynamics of classes of chemical reaction networks, based on rate-dependent Lyapunov functions. In this paper, we show that stronger notions of convergence can be established by proving contraction with respect to non-standard norms. This enables us to show that such networks entrain to periodic inputs. We illustrate our theory with examples from signaling pathways and genetic circuits. |
Synthetic gene circuits require cellular resources, which are often limited. This leads to competition for resources by different genes, which alter a synthetic genetic circuit's behavior. However, the manner in which competition impacts behavior depends on the identity of the "bottleneck" resource which might be difficult to discern from input-output data. In this paper, we aim at classifying the mathematical structures of resource competition in biochemical circuits. We find that some competition structures can be distinguished by their response to different competitors or resource levels. Specifically, we show that some response curves are always linear, convex, or concave. Furthermore, high levels of certain resources protect the behavior from low competition, while others do not. We also show that competition phenotypes respond differently to various interventions. Such differences can be used to eliminate candidate competition mechanisms when constructing models based on given data. On the other hand, we show that different networks can display mathematically equivalent competition phenotypes. |
Biological systems have been widely studied as complex dynamic systems that evolve with time in response to the internal resources abundance and external perturbations due to their common features. Integration of systems and synthetic biology provides a consolidated framework that draws system-level connections among biology, mathematics, engineering, and computer sciences. One major problem in current synthetic biology research is designing and controlling the synthetic circuits to perform reliable and robust behaviors as they utilize common transcription and translational resources among the circuits and host cells. While cellular resources are often limited, this results in a competition for resources by different genes and circuits, which affect the behaviors of synthetic genetic circuits. The manner competition impacts behavior depends on the “bottleneck” resource. With knowledge of physics laws and underlying mechanisms, the dynamical behaviors of the synthetic circuits can be described by the first principle models, usually represented by a system of ordinary differential equations (ODEs). In this work, we develop the novel embedded PINN (ePINN), which is composed of two nested loss-sharing neural networks to target and improve the unknown dynamics prediction from quantitative time series data. We apply the ePINN approach to identify the mathematical structures of competition phenotypes. Firstly, we use the PINNs approach to infer the model parameters and hidden dynamics from partially known data (including a lack of understanding of the reaction mechanisms or missing experimental data). Secondly, we test how well the algorithms can distinguish and extract the unknown dynamics from noisy data. Thirdly, we study how the synthetic and competing circuits behave in various cases when different particles become a limited resource. |
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. |
Powerful distributed computing can be achieved by communicating cells that individually perform simple operations. We have developed design software to divide a large genetic circuit across cells as well as the genetic parts to implement the subcircuits in their genomes. These tools were demonstrated by re-coding a 2-bit version of the MD5 hashing algorithm, an early predecessor to the cryptographic functions underlying cryptocurrency. Implementation required 110 logic gates, which were partitioned across 65 strains of Escherichia coli, requiring the introduction of a total of 0.66 Mb of recombinant DNA into their genomes. The strains are experimentally verified to integrate their assigned input signals, process this information correctly, and propagate the result to the cell in the next layer. This work demonstrates the potential computational capacity cell populations, whether it is to obtain programmable control of biological processes or to implement highly parallelized solutions to computational problems. |
Single-cell -omics datasets are high-dimensional and difficult to visualize. A common strategy for exploring such data is to create and analyze 2D projections. Such projections may be highly nonlinear, and implementation algorithms are designed with the goal of preserving aspects of the original high-dimensional shape of data such as neighborhood relationships or metrics. However, important aspects of high-dimensional geometry are known from mathematical theory to have no equivalent representation in 2D, or are subject to large distortions, and will therefore be misrepresented or even invisible in any possible 2D representation. We show that features such as quantitative distances, relative positioning, and qualitative neighborhoods of high-dimensional data points will always be misrepresented in 2D projections. Our results rely upon concepts from differential geometry, combinatorial geometry, and algebraic topology. As an illustrative example, we show that even a simple single-cell RNA sequencing dataset will always be distorted, no matter what 2D projection is employed. We also discuss how certain recently developed computational tools can help describe the high-dimensional geometric features that will be necessarily missing from any possible 2D projections. |
We develop some basic principles for the design and robustness analysis of a continuous-time bilinear dynamical network, where an attacker can manipulate the strength of the interconnections/edges between some of the agents/nodes. We formulate the edge protection optimization problem of picking a limited number of attack-free edges and minimizing the impact of the attack over the bilinear dynamical network. In particular, the H2-norm of bilinear systems is known to capture robustness and performance properties analogous to its linear counterpart and provides valuable insights for identifying which edges arem ost sensitive to attacks. The exact optimization problem is combinatorial in the number of edges, and brute-force approaches show poor scalability. However, we show that the H2-norm as a cost function is supermodular and, therefore, allows for efficient greedy approximations of the optimal solution. We illustrate and compare the effectiveness of our theoretical findings via numerical simulation |
Conference articles |
It is often of interest to know which systems will approach a periodic trajectory when given a periodic input. Results are available for certain classes of systems, such as contracting systems, showing that they always entrain to periodic inputs. In contrast to this, we demonstrate that there exist systems which are globally exponentially stable yet do not entrain to a periodic input. This could be seen as surprising, as it is known that globally exponentially stable systems are in fact contracting with respect to some Riemannian metric. |
Linear immersions (or Koopman eigenmappings) of a nonlinear system have wide applications in prediction and control. In this work, we study the existence of one-to-one linear immersions for nonlinear systems with multiple omega-limit sets. For this class of systems, existing work shows that a discontinuous one-to-one linear immersion may exist, but it is unclear if a continuous one-to-one linear immersion exists. Under mild conditions, we prove that systems with multiple omega-limit sets cannot admit a continuous one-to-one immersion to a class of systems including linear systems. |
Numerical ``direct'' approaches to time-optimal control often fail to find solutions that are singular in the sense of the Pontryagin Maximum Principle. These approaches behave better when searching for saturated (bang-bang) solutions. In previous work by one of the authors, singular solutions were theoretically shown to exist for the time-optimal problem for two-link manipulators under hard torque constraints. The theoretical results gave explicit formulas, based on Lie theory, for singular segments of trajectories, but the global structure of solutions remains unknown. In this work, we show how to effectively combine these theoretically found formulas with the use of general-purpose optimal control softwares. By using the explicit formula given by theory in the intervals where the numerical solution enters a singular arcs, we not only obtain an algebraic expression for the control in that interval, but we are also able to remove artifacts present in the numerical solution. In this way, the best features of numerical algorithms and theory complement each other and provide a better picture of the global optimal structure. We showcase the technique on a 2 degrees of freedom robotic arm example, and also propose a way of extending the analyzed method to robotic arms with higher degrees of freedom through partial feedback linearization, assuming the desired task can be mostly performed by a few of the degrees of freedom of the robot and imposing some prespecified trajectory on the remaining joints. |
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. |
Miscellaneous |
Deep neural network autoencoders are routinely used computationally for model reduction. They allow recognizing the intrinsic dimension of data that lie in a k-dimensional subset K of an input Euclidean space $\R^n$. The underlying idea is to obtain both an encoding layer that maps $\R^n$ into $\R^k$ (called the bottleneck layer or the space of latent variables) and a decoding layer that maps $\R^k$ back into $\R^n$, in such a way that the input data from the set K is recovered when composing the two maps. This is achieved by adjusting parameters (weights) in the network to minimize the discrepancy between the input and the reconstructed output. Since neural networks (with continuous activation functions) compute continuous maps, the existence of a network that achieves perfect reconstruction would imply that K is homeomorphic to a k-dimensional subset of $\R^k$, so clearly there are topological obstructions to finding such a network. On the other hand, in practice the technique is found to "work" well, which leads one to ask if there is a way to explain this effectiveness. We show that, up to small errors, indeed the method is guaranteed to work. This is done by appealing to certain facts from differential geometry. A computational example is also included to illustrate the ideas. |
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