Seminar – “Hybrid Dynamics, Cyber-Physical Systems, and Formal Methods in Chemical Engineering: Building Blocks of Automation and Smart Manufacturing” by Blake Rawlings (The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor)


In this talk, I will describe my recent work dealing with the analysis and control of classes of discrete and hybrid systems that apply to the chemical processing industry. Such systems naturally arise when process control and automation is applied in a chemical plant: the chemical process is a continuous system (modeled by differential equations), while the automation system includes numerous discrete variables that represent values such as whether a particular alarm is on or off. Analyzing (and controlling) the interaction between the continuous and discrete parts of the overall system is one of the keys to achieving the goal of improved automation embodied in initiatives like “Smart Manufacturing”.

In the first part of the talk, I will introduce the basic problem domain and the tools of the trade (formal methods). I will also cover novel techniques developed during my Ph.D. research that are applied to analyze the behavior of an existing chemical plant automation system. In the second part of the talk, I will show some more recent applications of the previously-mentioned tools, including to the problem of optimal scheduling of chemical plant operations.

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