UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering


PhD in Distributed Estimation of Large-Scale Complex Networks

A four year fully funded (home rate) PhD in Distributed Estimation of Large-Scale Complex Networks

Title: A four year fully funded (home rate) PhD in Distributed Estimation of Large-Scale Complex Networks

Project supervisor: Dr Boli Chen

Department: Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University College London

Start Date: September 2022 

Closing Date: None (the position will remain open until a suitable candidate is found)

What is covered by this studentship:  A stipend (currently £17,609 pa) and fees at the home rate (currently £5,525 pa) for a period of 4 years. This studentship also covers the cost of consumables and travel expenses amount to be confirmed) to attend conferences during the same period. More details about the stipend and fees can be found here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/research-innovation-services/studentship-budgets-202122

How to apply: In the first instance please email your CV, a cover letter explaining why you think you are a suitable candidate for the post and transcripts to Dr Boli Chen (boli.chen@ucl.ac.uk)


Description: In recent years, there has been a remarkable growth of large-scale distributed networked systems such as smart power grids, sensor networks, vehicle networks, etc, where a large set of agents endowed with computational capacities communicate with each other to perform collaborative tasks. In control theory, this has created an increasing demand for decentralized solutions of previously solely centralized concepts. The communication network between the agents comes here explicitly into play, formally described by a graph, which is dictated by the neighbourhood relations of the agents. The project is associated with modelling, analysis and estimation/control of dynamical networked systems, with the main emphasis on how the underlying uncertain communication present in the networked system can affect the system observability and the design of effective estimation algorithms. In particular, the PhD student will look to investigate new robust and resilient state estimation algorithms, addressing new challenges posed by the distributed systems, including but not limited to 1) delays, package dropouts, additional noises, which are ubiquitous within a networked system, 2) time-varying communication graph that arises as a consequence of agent-mobility, 3) data-rate constraints and variations due to the low-power requirements of IoT devices, and 4) potential sensor failure. The planned research intends to address one fundamental research question: What are the minimal requirements on the measurement structure and the underlying communication graph that ensure the existence of a distributed observer? The student will focus on either connected and autonomous vehicle or microgrid application and will test and validate the developed methods on a vehicle network or a microgrid model.


Person specification: The candidate should meet the entry requirements detailed here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/research-degrees/electronic-and-electrical-engineering-mphil-phd for PhD programmes at UCL EEE.

They should have

  • At least an upper second-class honours degree (2:1 or equivalent qualification) in Systems and Control, Electrical/Mechanical Engineering Computer Science, Robotics, Applied Mathematics, or related fields
  • A strong background in modelling and analysis of dynamical systems
  • Solid programming competence
  • Good communication skills, both in written and spoken English.

Additional requirements include technical experience in one or more of the following: control design, optimisation, system identification and modelling, vehicle dynamics and smart grid. Knowledge and experience with software languages, such as C++, Matlab/Simulink. Experience with research is not required but is a plus.

For inquiries about the position, please contact Dr Boli Chen boli.chen@ucl.ac.uk


About UCL and the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering: University College London (UCL) was founded in 1826 as the third university in England, after Oxford and Cambridge. UCL is the first university in England to admit students of any race, class or religion, and the first to welcome women on equal terms with men. UCL is organized into 11 constituent faculties, within which there are over 100 departments, institutes and research centres. UCL has 983 professors and more than 7000 academic staffs who are dedicated to research and teaching of the highest standards. Its student community is almost 36,000, the largest in the UK. There are 29 Nobel Prize winners and three Fields medalists amongst UCL’s alumni and current and former staff. UCL is the top rated university in the UK for research excellence (REF2014). It has a strong tradition and large knowledge base in medical research with a dedicated institute on Healthcare Engineering and 10+ hospitals. UCL has world-class support for researchers and has been voted the best place for postdoctoral researchers to work for consecutive years by The Scientist magazine. The main campus of UCL is located in central London, close to British Museum, West-End and Thames River. 

The Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at UCL was established by Professor Sir Ambrose Fleming in 1885 and has a very strong research culture, state-of-the-art research equipment and facilities, and a very rich history of many fundamental research achievements in electronic and electrical engineering. The department has received top ratings in every UK research evaluation carried out to date. 

Further information regarding UCL may be found at www.ucl.ac.uk  Information about the departments may be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/eee