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K-State News
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Pavithra Prabhakar funded by NSF for research on artificial intelligence-based cyber-physical systems

Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020



MANHATTAN — Pavithra Prabhakar, associate professor and Peggy and Gary Edwards chair in engineering in the computer science department at Kansas State University, has been awarded $450,000 from the National Science Foundation to work on artificial intelligence-based controllers in the three-year project, "Scalable Formal Verification of ANN Controlled Cyber-Physical Systems."

Artificial intelligence-based controllers, increasingly used for modern-day cyber-physical and autonomous systems such as driverless cars, are called on to perform sophisticated functions and operate in highly dynamic environments. Use of such controllers in driverless cars is highly safety-critical, where the vehicle is expected to not only stay in the correct lane but avoid collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians crossings roadways under varying lighting conditions.

The goal of Prabhakar's research is to provide rigorous correctness guarantees of artificial intelligence-based controllers using foundational mathematical analysis techniques known as formal methods. Prahabkar's project will develop efficient algorithms that can analyze these systems by drastically reducing size of the networks and representing them using a novel data structure called an interval neural network.

"The work is expected to lead to new mathematical insights and novel algorithms for rigorous analysis of artificial intelligence-based controllers," Prabhakar said. "The resulting software tools will have the potential to push the boundary of scalability of existing design and analysis algorithms and tools for artificial intelligence-controlled cyber-physical systems to large-scale and complex networks."

Graduate students as well as undergraduates will be involved as Prabhakar will develop new courses at the intersection of artificial intelligence and cyber-physical systems, and expand her outreach activities to teaching robotic programming to K-12 students.

Prabhakar has previously received research support for work in the area of cyber-physical and autonomous systems through an NSF CAREER Award and an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award. Her cutting-edge foundational research in this project will continue propelling Kansas State University‘s excellence in these areas.


Pavithra Prabhakar


Pavithra Prabhakar is pa-vee-thra prob-ha-car


K-State computer science department


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Pavithra Prabhakar

Pavithra Prabhakar, Kansas State University associate professor of computer science

Written by

Mary Rankin