Two PhD positions

Wed, 20/01/2010

Research topic

DISC is focused on the diagnosis and control of distributed plants using discrete-event models and methodologies. The objective is the design of supervisors and fault detectors exploiting the concurrency and the modularity of the plant model. Coordinated controllers should preferably be designed using local plant models, and requiring limited information exchange between local controllers. The diagnosers should be capable of handling the asynchronous nature of distributed systems.

We should use several techniques to reduce the computational complexity of solving the above mentioned problem for distributed plants: modularity in the modeling and control design phases; decentralized control with communicating controllers; modular state estimation, distributed diagnosis and modular fault detection based on the design of partially decentralized observers; fluidification of some discrete-event dynamics to reduce state-space cardinality.

Position 1 will be mainly related to fault detection and state observer algorithms for embedded systems and will be supervised by Dr. Cristian Mahulea (cmahuleaatunizar [dot] es) and Prof. Manuel Silva (silvaatunizar [dot] es). Activities will be mainly related to the following aspects:

• Develop methodologies for the model-based design of distributed fault detection and diagnosis algorithms, and for state estimation, for DES models at various levels of abstraction (discrete event systems and timed fluid Petri nets).
• Develop tools for automatic model based design, and for selecting the appropriate level of abstraction, and the appropriate level of decomposition, allowing reliable and timely fault detection for realistic cases. The computational complexity of the fault detection algorithms will be further reduced by explicitly considering modular and decentralized fault detectors.

Position 2 will be mainly related to model checking and supervisory control and will be supervised by Dr. Jorge Júlvez (julvezatunizar [dot] es) and Prof. Manuel Silva (silvaatunizar [dot] es). Activities will be mainly related to the following aspects:

• Study and elaborate new model checking strategies for efficient verification of properties in the framework of distributed systems modelled with Petri nets. The strategies to be considered might range from divide and conquer approaches to symbolic and bounded model checking.
• Design local supervisory controllers suitable for each subsystem of a distributed system. The controllers to be design must exhibit a low complexity and must be highly adaptable to potential changes in the structure of the distributed system.


The main task for the accepted candidates will be to conduct research towards his/her PhD. The candidates are expected to complete the degree within 3-4 years. Applicants must have MSc (or equivalent) degree in Automatic Control, Computer Science, Mathematics, Electrical/Electronics or Communications Engineering. Some knowledge on formal models on computer science, automatic control or operational research will be especially welcome. The salary will be around 1200 EUR/month, with an incremental raise in the following years. Health insurance will also be provided.

The candidates will start on April or May 2010.


The interested students should send their applications by email, before 14th February 2010, to cmahuleaatunizar [dot] es and julvezatunizar [dot] es. Each application should contain: (1) CV including the name and email addresses of two references, (2) a letter of intentions and (3) the list of positions prioritized.