Functional Target Controllability of Networks: Structural Properties and Efficient Algorithms

Christian Commault, Jacob van der Woude, Paolo Frasca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we consider the problem of controlling a limited number of target nodes of a network. Equivalently, we can see this problem as controlling the target variables of a structured system, where the state variables of the system are associated to the nodes of the network. We deal with this problem from a different point of view as compared to most recent literature. Indeed, instead of considering controllability in the Kalman sense, that is, as the ability to drive the target states to a desired value, we consider the stronger requirement of driving the target variables as time functions. The latter notion is called functional target controllability. We think that restricting the controllability requirement to a limited set of important variables justifies using a more accurate notion of controllability for these variables. Remarkably, the notion of functional controllability allows formulating very simple graphical conditions for target controllability in the spirit of the structural approach to controllability. The functional approach enables us, moreover, to determine the smallest set of steering nodes that need to be actuated to ensure target controllability, where these steering nodes are constrained to belong to a given set. We show that such a smallest set can be found in polynomial time. We are also able to classify the possible actuated variables in terms of their importance with respect to the functional target controllability problem.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8818353
Pages (from-to)1521-1530
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Network Science and Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • functional target controllability
  • graph theory
  • Network control
  • structural controllability


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