University of Utah                             

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

ECE 6570                               Adaptive Control                             Spring 2020


Instructor:                     Professor Marc Bodson

Office:                          MEB 3230, Tel.: 581-8590


Class:                           MW 1:25PM-2:45PM. Location: MCE 1001


1.       Introduction

The concept of adaptation in control is appealing and many applications have been studied. In aerospace, adaptive control has been proposed to account for changes in the dynamics of flight vehicles, due to variations in altitude and velocity. In robotics, adaptation is helpful to control manipulators with unknown loads or changing configurations.

2.       Course objectives

The course has two main objectives:

The theory of adaptive control systems is challenging, due to their nonlinear, time-varying nature. However, the theory is necessary to understand the dynamic properties of adaptive systems. The two objectives are therefore complementary, and we will keep a balance between methodologies for adaptive control (algorithms), and analytical methods and results.

3.       Course contents     

Introduction to adaptive systems: Non-adaptive and adaptive control. Motivation and applications of adaptive control.

Discrete-time parameter estimation algorithms: Linear parameterization and linear error equation. Gradient and normalized gradient algorithms. Least-squares algorithms (batch, recursive, recursive with forgetting factor, and stabilized recursive).

Continuous-time algorithms and parameter convergence: Gradient, least-squares, and recursive least-squares algorithms. Convergence properties.

Identification of linear time-invariant systems: Background on state-space methods, pole placement, and state observers. Identification of first-order and arbitrary order systems. Adaptive observers. Sufficient richness condition for parameter convergence. Identification of discrete-time systems. Output error vs. equation error identification.

Indirect adaptive control: Pole placement adaptive control. Model reference adaptive control. Predictive control. Singularity regions and methods to avoid them.

Direct adaptive control: Pseudo-gradient algorithm and Lyapunov redesign. Strictly positive real transfer functions and the Kalman-Yacubovitch-Popov lemma. Direct model reference adaptive control. Passivity theory.

Averaging analysis of adaptive systems: Averaging of signals. Averaging theory for one-time scale and two-time scale systems. Applications to adaptive systems.

4.       Prerequisites

ECE 3510: Introduction to feedback systems (or equivalent). A course on state-space methods (ECE 5960/6960 on linear systems or ME EN 5210/6210) is recommended, but not required.

5.       Textbook

Course notes are offered for download as a pdf file on Canvas, with the condition that students keep the file for their personal use and do not make it available to anyone else.

6.       Course organization

Announcements, assignments, and grades will be posted on Canvas. Students should enable frequent notifications using the Account tab on Canvas. The setting “Notify me right away”, or “Send daily summary” is recommended.

7.       Office hours

The instructor will be available for questions after class on Mondays (in class or in his office). Individual appointments can also be made after class or through e-mail. On-line meetings may also be scheduled.

8.       On-line section

The on-line section (section 090) is a self-study version of the class that does not require attendance of the lectures. However, the assigned work is the same as for the regular class and must be submitted at the same due dates. After each lecture, the instructor will post an announcement on Canvas indicating the pages of the textbook that were covered in class. On-line students are expected to read the same material by the end of the same week. Video recordings of the lectures may be available, but are not guaranteed.

9.       Grading

Grades will be determined based on homeworks and a final project. Assignments and due dates will be announced on Canvas, and all work must be submitted through Canvas as well.

10.     Homeworks

Homeworks will consist in exercises and in computer simulations. The simulations will illustrate the properties derived analytically and will help to gain insight into the dynamic behavior of adaptive systems. Students are encouraged to purchase a license of the software Matlab through the Office of Software Licensing at: .

11.     Project

A project consists in an independent investigation of a topic of current interest related to the course. Students are responsible for the selection of the topic of their project, and are encouraged to select subjects that are of particular interest to them, including those related to their research.

The requirements for the project are as follows (the due dates will be announced on Canvas):

For the report, students should remember to include their name, the title of their project, and a list of references. Recommendations for the preparation of reports can be found at:

A typical project consists in a brief survey of a topic from the research literature, followed by a more detailed presentation of one or more papers. The most convenient source is the IEEE Xplore database freely available to users of the University of Utah’s network ( Journals with contributions to the field of adaptive control include IEEE Trans. on Automatic Control and IEEE Trans. on Control Systems Technology. Journals outside of IEEE may be harder to obtain, but include Automatica, the International Journal of Control, and the International Journal of Adaptive Control and Signal Processing. Publications available from the university’s library system should also be consulted, and web search engines such as Google can be useful to find on-line resources.

Examples of contributions expected in the project include: critical evaluation of the significance of the results, comparison of different approaches, simplified or expanded analysis of the results, and independent verification of the results (e.g., through simulations or experiments).

The criteria for the grading of the projects are:

(a) originality and critical thinking (how interesting is the work?)

(b) technical quality and accuracy (how good is the work?)

(c) scope of the project and completeness (how much work was done?)

(d) quality of presentation: logical organization, clarity and neatness (how well is the work presented?).

Copying from papers (or simply paraphrasing) will not be considered a valid contribution. Students are expected to write a report in their own words and to demonstrate that they have read the papers, understood them, and thought about them in a critical and investigative manner.

12.  University policies

1.      The Americans with Disabilities Act. The University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services, and activities for people with disabilities. If you will need accommodations in this class, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to the Center for Disability Services, 162 Olpin Union Building, (801) 581-5020. CDS will work with you and the instructor to make arrangements for accommodations. All written information in this course can be made available in an alternative format with prior notification to the Center for Disability Services.

2.      University Safety Statement. The University of Utah values the safety of all campus community members. To report suspicious activity or to request a courtesy escort, call campus police at 801-585-COPS (801-585-2677). You will receive important emergency alerts and safety messages regarding campus safety via text message. For more information regarding safety and to view available training resources, including helpful videos, visit

3.      Addressing Sexual Misconduct. Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender (which includes sexual orientation and gender identity/expression) is a civil rights offense subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, color, religion, age, status as a person with a disability, veteran’s status or genetic information.  If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you are encouraged to report it to the Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, 135 Park Building, 801-581-8365, or the Office of the Dean of Students, 270 Union Building, 801-581-7066.  For support and confidential consultation, contact the Center for Student Wellness, 426 SSB, 801-581-7776.  To report to the police, contact the Department of Public Safety, 801-585-2677(COPS).

4.      Other important information:

a.                              Student code:

b.                              Accommodation policy (see Section Q):