Spiking Control Systems

30 September 2022
Start time 
2:00 pm
Polo Ferrari 2 - Via Sommarive 9, Povo (Trento)
Seminar room
Target audience: 
UniTrento students
Contact details: 
Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale
Rodolphe Sepulchre, University of Cambridge


Spikes and rhythms organize control and communication in the animal world, in contrast to the bits and clocks of digital technology. As continuous-time signals that can be counted, spikes have a mixed nature. This talk will  review ongoing efforts to develop a control theory of spiking systems. The central thesis is that the mixed nature of spiking results from a mixed feedback principle, and that a control theory of mixed feedback can be grounded in the operator theoretic concept of maximal monotonicity. As a nonlinear generalization of passivity, maximal monotonicity acknowledges at once the physics of electrical circuits, the algorithmic tractability of convex optimization, and the feedback control theory of incremental passivity. We discuss the relevance of a theory of spiking control systems in the emerging age of event-based technology.


Rodolphe Sepulchre received the engineering degree (1990) and the PhD degree (1994), both from the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. He was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of California, Santa Barbara, from 1994 to 1996. He was then appointed at the Université de Liège in 1997. In 2013, he moved to Cambridge, UK, where he holds the control chair in the Department of Engineering and a professioral fellowship in Sidney Sussex College. He held visiting positions at Princeton University (2002-2003), the Ecole des Mines de Paris (2009-2010), California Institute of Technology (2018), and part-time positions at the University of Louvain (2000-2011) and at INRIA Lille Europe (2012-2013). He was the Petar Kokotovic Distinguished Visiting Professor of UCSB in 2019.
He is a fellow of IFAC (2020), IEEE (2009), and SIAM (2015). In 2008, he received the IEEE Control Systems Society Antonio Ruberti Young Researcher Prize. He was elected at the Royal Academy of Belgium in 2013. He is the recipient of the 2020 IEEE Axelby Best Paper Award. He is (co-) author of the monographs Constructive Nonlinear Control (1997, with M. Jankovic and P. Kokotovic) and Optimization on Matrix Manifolds (2008, with P.-A. Absil and R. Mahony). His research is currently funded by the ERC advanced grant SpikyControl. He is Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Control Systems Magazine since 2020. 


The seminar will also be streamed live on the Zoom platform. Please contact luca.zaccarian [at] to have the link.