Lockheed Martin Robotics Seminar: Using Knowledge-based Neural Ordinary Differential Equations

Friday, April 8, 2022
2:00 p.m.
Online Seminar

Using Knowledge-based Neural Ordinary Differential Equations to Learn Complex Dynamics for Control

M. Ani Hsieh

Associate Professor
Department of Mech. Engineering and Applied Mechanics
University of Pennsylvania

Zoom link:


Robots and autonomous systems give us unprecedented access to landscapes and habitats both big and small. They provide in-situ monitoring of the environments they are immersed in and adapt their strategies to respond to various external stimuli. These systems enable us to more richly and extensively interact with the world we live in, better our understanding of the complexities of the world, and assist in the discovery of new processes and phenomena. Nevertheless, the ability to operate robustly in complex environments requires robots to have accurate representations of the system dynamics. In this talk, I will present some of our recent efforts in developing knowledge embedded machine learning strategies for modeling and predicting complex dynamics.

In this work, I will present a universal learning framework for extracting predictive models of nonlinear systems based on observations. A key challenge is how to embed first principles domain knowledge into modern machine learning strategies. I will show how our Knowledge-based Nerual Ordinary Differential Equation (K-NODE) framework can explicitly model nonlinear systems as continuous-time systems, thus more easily incorporating first principle knowledge. The ability to embed first principles knowledge into the learning framework improves the extracted models' extrapolation power and reduces the amount of data needed for training. I will demonstrate the effectiveness of our scheme by learning predictive models for a wide variety of nonlinear dynamical systems. I will also show how the framework can be used to extract single agent control strategies for swarming and to develop robust feedback control strategies for autonomous vehicles.


M. Ani Hsieh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania.  She is also the Deputy Director of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing, and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory and Program Chair for the Robotics MSE Program.  Her research interests lie at the intersection of robotics, multi-agent systems, and dynamical systems theory.  Hsieh and her team design algorithms for estimation, control, and planning for multi-agent robotic systems with applications in environmental monitoring, estimation and prediction of complex dynamics, and design of collective behaviors.  She received her B.S. in Engineering and B.A. in Economics from Swarthmore College and her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.  Prior to Penn, she was an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics at Drexel University.  Hsieh is the recipient of a 2012 Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award and a 2013 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award.

Host: Pratap Tokekar


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