PhD: Model Predictive Control of Uncertain Switching Max-Plus Linear Systems

Department/faculty: Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering
Level: Unknown
Working hours: 38 hours per week
Contract: 4 years
Salary: €2222 to €2840 per month gross

Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

The 3mE Faculty trains committed engineering students, PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers in groundbreaking scientific research in the fields of mechanical, maritime and materials engineering. 3mE is the epitome of a dynamic, innovative faculty, with a European scope that contributes demonstrable economic and social benefits.

The Delft Centre for Systems and Control (DCSC) coordinates the education and research activities in systems and control at Delft University of Technology. The Centre's research mission is to conduct fundamental research in systems dynamics and control, involving dynamic modelling, advanced control theory, optimisation, and signal analysis. The research is motivated by advanced technology development in physical imaging systems, robotics, and transportation systems.

Job description

The switching max-plus-linear (SMPL) system description is a powerful modelling tool for many applications that involve scheduling and synchronisation of cyclic discrete-event systems, such as manufacturing systems, traffic networks, printers, legged robots, queuing systems, and array processors. The switching mechanism of the SMPL system describes the switching of the SMPL system from one mode into another. In each mode the system is described by a max-plus-linear state equation and a max-plus-linear output equation, where a max-plus linear equation is an equation that is nonlinear in the conventional algebra, but linear in the so-called max-plus algebra. In each mode we have different system matrices, which means that in SMPL systems the routing of the events, the event order, and/or synchronisation may change due to uncertain events, state behaviour or due to control actions.
The project aims at developing new insights in the system-theoretical properties of SMPL systems in the presence of uncertainty, and at using this knowledge to develop new model predictive controllers for different types of uncertain SMPL systems. Uncertainty in the system parameters may occur when processing times (production times, transport times) are uncertain. Uncertainty in the switching may happen when routes are uncertain or process failures occur.
The research will require the use of skills in the fields of control of hybrid systems, max-plus linear algebra, graph theory, and stochastics.


Applicants should have the following qualifications:
• An MSc degree in systems and control, applied mathematics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, or a related field.
• Basic knowledge of control systems theory (this requirement may be waived if the candidate is particularly skilled in mathematics).
• Strong analytical skills and ability to work at the intersection of several research domains, in particular control systems theory and mathematics.
• Basic programming skills in Matlab are expected.
• Good command of the English language and communication skills are required.

Conditions of employment

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.
As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information.

Information and application

For more information about this position, please contact dr. Ton van den Boom,
To apply, please send the following:
(1) a detailed curriculum vitae,
(2) a separate motivation letter stating why the proposed research topic interests you, names and contact information of references, and other information that might be relevant to your application,
(3) academic transcripts of both your BSc and MSc degrees,
(4) publications (if any) and (an abstract of) your MSc thesis.  
Please e-mail your application by 1 December 2017 to Irina Bruckner,
When applying for this position, please refer to vacancy number 3ME17-57.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.


Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering
Working hours
4 years
€2222 to €2840 per month gross

Closing date
Dec. 1, 2017
Vacancy nr.


For more information about this job, please contact Ton van den Boom, Assistant Professor.


For more information about the application procedure, please contact Irina Bruckner/HR.