January 9, 2017

Blaise Genest (IRISA CNRS)

We introduce a new setting where a population of agents, each modelled by a finite-state system, are controlled uniformly: the controller applies the same action to every agent. The framework is largely inspired by the control of a biological system, namely a population of yeasts, where the controller may only change the environment common to all cells. In this talk, we will describe a sure synchronization problem for such populations: no matter how individual agents react to the actions of the controller, the controller aims at driving all agents synchronously to a goal set of states. The agents are naturally represented by a non-deterministic finite state automaton, the same for every agent, and the whole system is encoded as a 2-player game. The first player chooses actions, and the second player resolves non-determinism for each agent. The game with m agents is called the m-population game. A natural parametrized control problem, given the automaton representing the agents, is whether player one wins the m-population game for any population size m. We show that if the answer is negative, there exists a cut-off, that is, a population size m0 such that for populations of size m < m0 there exists a winning controller, and there is none for populations of size m >m0. Surprisingly, we show that this cut-off can be doubly exponential in the number of states of the NFA. While this suggests a high complexity for the parameterized control problem, we actually show that it can be solved in EXPTIME and is PSPACE-hard.