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227-0690-06L Advanced Topics in Control
Distributed Systems and Control
Spring 2015


Lecturer: Florian Dörfler
Assistants: Basilio Gentile ETL K 11 044 632 3886
Bala Kameshwar Poolla ETL K 26 044 632 5321
Francesca Parise ETL K 28 044 632 5287
Tyler Summers ETL K 24 044 632 2326

Please contact us via email at ifaatic(at) and insert the expression [ATIC_15] in the subject of your email.


18.02.15 The first homework will be assigned on Tuesady 03.03.15 and is due on Friday 13.03.15 by 10.15am.
18.02.15 The lectures will be video recorded and made available on the ETH Multimedia Portal.
23.02.15 Every week the exercise session summary will be posted on the website (see below). When possible, solutions to the exercises will be printed and made available during the following Tuesday lecture.
24.02.15 The students who do not have the lecture notes can contact us to receive them via email.
24.02.15 The students can help the improvement of the lecture notes by indicating the typos in this Google Doc.
27.02.15 The file for the exercise session 1 has been updated on 27.02.15
03.03.15 The exercise session of Friday 03.04 (Good Friday) will be anticipated to Thursday 02.04, from 12.15 to 14.00 in ML H44.
The exercise session of Friday 01.05 (Labour Day) will be anticipated to Thursday 30.04, from 12.15 to 14.00 in ML H44.
20.03.15 The homework 2 originally posted contained a typo in Exercise 1.3; the wrong expression 2(|E|+n) must be replaced with 2|E|+n. The new homework 2 posted on 20.03.15 has this typo fixed.
01.04.15 The homework 1 inspection will take place at 14:00 on Thursday, April 2nd in ML H44.
08.04.15 The homework 3 has been updated on 08.04.15, because the symbol for the vector of all zeros was not properly displayed in the previous version.
14.04.15 The homework 2 inspection will take place at 12:00 on Friday, April 17th in ML H44.


Week Date File Last revised Reading assignment
1 17.02.15 Lecture 1 17.02.15 Chapter 1, Paragraph 2.1
1 20.02.15 Exercise session 1 27.02.15
2 24.02.15 Lecture 2 24.02.15 Paragraphs 2.2, 2.3, 2.4
2 27.02.15 Exercise session 2 27.02.15
3 03.03.15 Lecture 3 03.03.15 Chapter 3, Chapter 4
3 06.04.15 Exercise session 3 10.03.15
4 10.03.15 Lecture 4 09.03.15 Chapter 5
4 13.03.15 Exercise session 4 14.03.15
5 17.03.15 Lecture 5 17.03.15 Chapter 6
5 20.03.15 Exercise session 5 24.03.15
6 24.03.15 Lecture 6 24.03.15 Chapter 7
6 27.03.15 Exercise session 6 26.03.15
7 31.03.15 Lecture 7 31.03.15 Chapter 8
7 02.04.15 Exercise session 7 06.04.15
8 14.04.15 Lecture 8 14.04.15 Chapter 9


Posted on File Grades Due date
03.03.15 Homework 1 grades_hw_1 13.03.15
17.03.15 Homework 2 grades_hw_2 27.03.15
31.03.15 Homework 3 17.04.15


Project Number Posted on Topic File
1 05.04.15 opinion dynamics with non-cooperative agents project_1
2 05.04.15 leaders, followers and likeness in networks project_2
3 05.04.15 distributed control in power grids project_3
4 05.04.15 distributed coordination of mobile robots project_4

Here are specified the project policy and rules.

In order to write the final report, you can use Latex or MS Word.
If you use Latex, please download and use the Latex report template, together with the IEEE style file; to obtain these two files, right-click on the two links above and save them, rather than visualizing them in your web browser.
If you use MS Word, please download and use the MS Word report template.


Lecture: Tuesdays 16:15 to 18:00 CAB G 61
Exercises: Fridays 10:15 to 12:00 ML H 44
Office hour: Wednesdays 13:00 to 14:00 ETL I 10


Control systems (227-0216-00L), Linear system theory (227-0225-00L), or equivalents, basic Matlab skills as well as sufficient mathematical maturity.


Distributed control systems include large-scale physical systems, engineered multi-agent systems, as well as their interconnection in cyber-physical systems. Representative examples are electric power grids, camera networks, and robotic sensor networks. The challenges associated with these systems arise due to their coupled, distributed, and large-scale nature, and due to limited sensing, communication, and control capabilities. This course covers modeling, analysis, and design of distributed control systems as well as applications in various engineering domains. Topics covered in the course include
  • the theory of graphs with an emphasis on algebraic and spectral graph theory;
  • basic models of interconnected dynamical systems and multi-agent systems;
  • continuous-time and discrete-time distributed averaging and consensus algorithms;
  • coordination algorithms for rendezvous, formation, flocking, and deployment;
  • distributed algorithms computation and optimization over networks; and
  • applications in robotic coordination, coupled oscillators, social networks, sensor networks, power grids, and epidemics.


The class is based on biweekly homework assignments (50%) and a final project (50%).
The detailed grading policy is explained here.