Problems involving controlling the collective behavior of a population of structurally similar dynamical systems, the so-called ensemble control, arise in diverse emerging applications and pose a grand challenge in systems science and control engineering. Owing to the severely under-actuated nature and the difficulty of placing large-scale sensor networks, ensemble systems are limited to being actuated and monitored at the population level. Moreover, mathematical models describing the dynamics of ensemble systems are often elusive. Therefore, it is essential to design broadcast controls that excite the entire population in such a way that the heterogeneity in system dynamics is robustly compensated. In this article, we propose a reinforcement learning (RL)-based data-driven control framework incorporating population-level aggregated measurement data to learn a global control signal for steering a dynamic population in the desired manner. In particular, we introduce the notion of ensemble moments induced by aggregated measurements and derive the associated moment system to the original ensemble system. Then, using the moment system, we learn an approximation of optimal value functions and the associated policies in terms of ensemble moments through RL. We illustrate the feasibility and scalability of the proposed moment-based approach via numerical experiments using a population of linear, bilinear, and nonlinear dynamic ensemble systems. We report that the proposed method achieves the desired control objectives of various ensemble control tasks and obtains significantly better averaged-reward when compared with three existing methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Costs
  • Data-driven control
  • ensemble control systems
  • moment methods
  • Optimal control
  • Reinforcement learning
  • reinforcement learning (RL)
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Task analysis
  • Time measurement


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