Simple approximations of semialgebraic sets and their applications to control

Fabrizio Dabbene, Didier Henrion, Constantino M. Lagoa

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Scopus citations


    Many uncertainty sets encountered in control systems analysis and design can be expressed in terms of semialgebraic sets, that is as the intersection of sets described by means of polynomial inequalities. Important examples are for instance the Schur and Hurwitz stability domains. These sets often have very complicated shapes (nonconvex, and even non-connected), which render difficult their manipulation. It is therefore of considerable importance to find simple-enough approximations of these sets, able to capture their main characteristics while maintaining a low level of complexity. For these reasons, in the past years several convex approximations, based for instance on hyperrectangles, polytopes, or ellipsoids have been proposed. In this work, we move a step further, and propose possibly nonconvex yet still simple approximations, based on a small volume polynomial superlevel set of a single positive polynomial of given degree. We show how these sets can be easily approximated by minimizing the L1 norm of the polynomial over the semialgebraic set, subject to positivity constraints. Intuitively, this corresponds to the trace minimization heuristic commonly encountered in minimum volume ellipsoid problems. From a computational viewpoint, we design a hierarchy of convex linear matrix inequality problems to generate these approximations, and we provide theoretically rigorous convergence results, in the sense that the hierarchy of outer approximations converges in volume (or, equivalently, almost everywhere and almost uniformly) to the original set. Finally, we show how the concept of polynomial superlevel set can be used to generate samples uniformly distributed on a given semialgebraic set. The efficiency of the proposed approach is demonstrated by different numerical examples.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)110-118
    Number of pages9
    StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Control and Systems Engineering
    • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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