Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Sriram Sankaranarayanan

Second Advisor

Pavol Cerny

Third Advisor

Evan Chang

Fourth Advisor

John Hauser

Fifth Advisor

Christoffer Heckman


The focus of this thesis is developing a framework for designing correct-by-construction controllers using control certificates. We use nonlinear dynamical systems to model the physical environment (plants). The goal is to synthesize controllers for these plants while guaranteeing formal correctness w.r.t. given specifications. We consider different fundamental specifications including stability, safety, and reach-while-stay. Stability specification states that the execution traces of the system remain close to an equilibrium state and approach it asymptotically. Safety specification requires the execution traces to stay in a safe region. Finally, for reach-while-stay specification, safety is needed until a target set is reached.

The design task consists of two phases. In the first phase, the control design problem is reduced to the question of finding a control certificate. More precisely, the goal of the first phase is to define a class of control certificates with a specific structure. This definition should guarantee the following: ``Having a control certificate, one can systematically design a controller and prove its correctness at the same time."

The goal in the second phase is to find such a control certificate. We define a potential control certificate space (hypothesis space) using parameterized functions. Next, we provide an inductive search framework to find proper parameters, which yield a control certificate.

Finally, we evaluate our framework. We show that discovering control certificates is practically feasible and demonstrate the effectiveness of the automatically designed controllers through simulations and real physical systems experiments.


Advisor: Ashutosh Trivedi