Adaptive communication networks with privacy guarantees

April 4, 2017


Utilizing the concept of observability, in conjunction with tools from graph theory and optimization, this paper develops an algorithm for network synthesis with privacy guarantees. In particular, we propose an algorithm for the selection of optimal weights for the communication graph in order to maximize the privacy of nodes in the network, from a control theoretic perspective. In this direction, we propose an observability-based design of the communication topology that improves the privacy of the network in presence of an intruder. The resulting adaptive network responds to the intrusion by changing the topology of the network-in an online manner- in order to reduce the information exposed to the intruder.


Networked dynamic systems consist of multiple dynamic units that are interconnected via a network. In recent years, the area of networked systems has received extensive attention from the research community. There are many examples of networked systems in our everyday lives such as social and transportation networks. Analysis of certain classes of complex networks such as biological networks, power grids, and robotic networks is of increasing interest in a number of scientific and engineering communities.

Fig 2

Re-weighting of a network with multiple foreign nodes, denoted with large red circles


The main goal in this paper was to design a proper selection of the weights in the dynamics of a networked system induced by the communication graph, such that the privacy of the network is guaranteed, where the privacy guarantee makes each agent cannot retrieve the initial states of other agents. It was assumed that we are uncertain about the intention of the foreign agent who attacks the network. The privacy of the network was posed as an online optimization problem on the gramian of a weighted network. An online learning algorithm was used to find an optimal set of weights that guarantee sub-linear regret. The use of empirical observability Gramian was discussed in the context of privacy for a networked control systems. For this approach it may be worth noticing that the empirical observability Gramian can be used to evaluate the observability of nonlinear systems, however, we considered a parametrized linear system to guarantee a logarithmic regret bound.