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Booz Allen Colloquium: John Baillieul, "Decision Making in Search, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance"
Friday, April 16, 2010
2:00 p.m.
Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building, Rm. 1110
For More Information:
Jess Molina
301 405 4471

Booz Allen Hamilton Distinguished Colloquium in Electrical and Computer Engineering

"Decision Making in Search, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance"

Prof. John Baillieul
Professor, Aero/Mech. Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering
Boston University


The formal study of problems in search, surveillance, and reconnaissance involves elements of psychology, decision theory, game theory, and control theory. While the problems have significant differences, there are also common elements. In all cases, it is useful to distinguish between problems in which the optimal strategies are purely random and problems in which there are choices at each step that have associated costs and payoffs in terms of acquiring partial information about the goal of the search. An example of the former type of problem is the simple search game with immobile hiders that was introduced by Isaacs' in his monograph Differential Games. A game of search of the latter type is the popular Minesweeper. This talk will deal primarily with search and reconnaissance problems in which the goal is to locate or simply enumerate certain features in an unknown search domain. The features of interest are abstracted as geometric and topological invariants of random fields. Using what we believe to be a novel information-like metric, reconnaissance protocols are evaluated in terms of how efficiently they provide both geometric and topological knowledge of the field. The machinery provides a framework in which to study anytime reconnaissance algorithms. It is also the basis of several computer games that have been developed for the purpose of studying styles of human decision-making in search and reconnaissance. Results of studies based on these games will be discussed.


John Baillieul's research deals with robotics, the control of mechanical systems, and mathematical system theory. His PhD dissertation, completed at Harvard University under the direction of R.W. Brockett in 1975, was an early work dealing with connections between optimal control theory and what came to be called “sub-Riemannian geometry.” After publishing a number of papers developing geometric methods for nonlinear optimal control problems, he turned his attention to problems in the control of nonlinear systems modeled by homogeneous polynomial differential equations. Such systems describe, for example, the controlled dynamics of a rigid body. His main controllability theorem applied the concept of finiteness embodied in the Hilbert basis theorem to develop a controllability condition that could be verified by checking the rank of an explicit finite dimensional operator. Baillieul’s current research is aimed at understanding decision making and novel ways to communicate in mixed teams of humans and intelligent automata. John Baillieul is a Fellow of the IEEE and a Fellow of SIAM.

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