Resolving complexity at the core of ECE professor's new book


Bridget Maiellaro, ECE Illinois

Control Techniques for Complex Networks
Control Techniques for Complex Networks

Sean P Meyn recently completed writing his second book, entitled Control Techniques for Complex Networks, which he said focuses on trying to bring complex networks down to a manageable size in order to visualize behavior and simplify the construction of control solutions.

Meyn said that part of his motivation for writing the book is to build a bridge between theory and practice.

"One of the most important objectives of the book is to explain how to resolve complexity," Meyn said. "This involves stripping away many of the details found in typical statistical models, as well as throwing away certain constraints, just temporarily to get some insight."

Meyn began research in the networks area about 20 years ago and started to work on this book in 2000. Much of the book is based on research conducted by Meyn and his colleagues, including his graduate students, ECE Professors P.R. Kumar and R. Srikant, and Shane Henderson of Cornell University.

Meyn said that he believes this book is very important today because complex networks are everywhere.

Sean P Meyn
Sean P Meyn

"You’ve got computer networks, incredibly complex economic systems, networks of occupancy in buildings, and interconnected ventilation systems," he said. "Complexity comes in part from our creation of these physical systems and also because so much information is available through new sensing and communication technologies. Learning how to use all this information to control a network is a focus of the book."

So far, Control Techniques for Complex Networks has received glowing reviews. American Economics Association President Thomas Sargent said the following. "This book is a gold mine of useful new ideas. I predict that the ideas in chapter 11 alone will have a big impact on the way we think about computing rational expectations equilibria."

Meyn’s first book, Markov Chains and Stochastic Stability, was released in 1993. Meyn and his co-author, the late Richard L. Tweedie, former head of the Division of Biostatistics at the University of Minnesota, won the 1994 ORSA/TIMS Award for the best research publication in applied probability. This book will be reprinted in Cambridge University Press’ Cambridge Mathematical Library.

Control Techniques for Complex Networks, which was written with support from the National Science Foundation, will be available by the end of this year.