On the fixed controllable subspace in linear structured systems

Christian Commault*, Jacob van der Woude, Taha Boukhobza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we consider interconnected networks that are described by means of structured linear systems with state and control variables. We represent these systems, whose matrices contain fixed zeros and free parameters, by means of directed graphs and study questions concerning controllability and the controllable subspace. We show in this paper that the controllable subspace can have a part that will be present for almost all values of the free parameters. It actually is a subspace of the controllable subspace and will be referred to as the fixed controllable subspace. The subspace can then be seen as a kind of robustly controllable part of the system. Indeed, it is a subspace in the state space with the generic property that states in it can be steered in an arbitrary way. We derive a characterization of the fixed controllable subspace using the graph representation. The obtained characterization makes use of well-known algorithms from optimization and networks theory. To get some more insight in the components in the fixed part, we also give a representation of the structured linear systems by means of bipartite graphs. Using the Dulmage–Mendelsohn decomposition, we are able to decompose our structured systems in such a way that in some special cases, the fixed controllable subspace can be obtained directly from the decomposition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-47
Number of pages6
JournalSystems & Control Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Controllability
  • Graph theory
  • Structured system theory


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