Prof. Nicola Elia Named IEEE Fellow

ECE faculty, Prof. Nicola Elia has been named an IEEE Fellow effective January 2019. He has been cited by the IEEE for his contributions to networked control systems.

Prof. Elia’s research focuses on topics within decision and control systems, including control with communication constraints and networked control systems. His recent research has focused on networked distributed optimization, and cooperative multi-agent systems.

Integrated Theory of Information and Control

Control theory and communication theory and their applications have been evolving independently over the recent decades, but with the wide availability of large communication networks, there was the potential for groundbreaking new applications that would entail close interaction between control and communication systems. Prof. Elia recognized the challenge and spearheaded the development of an integrated theory of information and control. In the separate evolution of the two lines of theory, each focused on unique problems and used different mathematical tools in their approach to problem-solving, which presented significant conceptual roadblocks. Elia and some of the early researchers recognized the need for a unified theory that could augment both control and communication theories as they currently existed.

Elia’s research contributions were based off his search for an integrated theory that would interpret feedback control systems as real-time information processing systems, while simultaneously interpreting feedback communication systems as causal decision making systems. His work has shone new light on how limited information provided by unreliable communication channels can impact the performance and stability of feedback systems. At the level of applications, his research has demonstrated how feedback controls could help design efficient communication systems.

Prof. Elia’s Research Contributions

Elia’s body of research is pivotal, and has made significant contributions in the bringing together of information and control theories, which in turn have impacted the analysis and design of networked systems. His work will have wide ranging impact, from better designed networks of autonomous vehicles and robots to electric grids, and from manufacturing systems to social networks. The education and training of systems engineers will eventually reflect Elia’s unified theories, which will lead to further technological innovations.

Prof. Elia has made seminal contributions to networked control systems as seen in his numerous technical publications, reports, and presentations (communication uncertainties, networked control systems design, design of communication systems with access to feedback, and controller design methods). But in addition to these, he has also actively and generously shared his time by serving as a chair and member of various IEEE and non-IEEE committees, as associate editor and reviewer for journals, and organizer of multiple expert sessions and workshops.

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is proud of Prof. Nicola Elia’s accomplishments, and those of the team he leads, and congratulate him on his elevation to IEEE Fellow.

From the IEEE website: “[…] the IEEE Grade of Fellow is conferred by the Board of Directors upon a person with an extraordinary record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The total number selected in any one year does not exceed one-tenth of one percent of the total voting Institute membership.”