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John C. Doyle 道耀

Jean-Lou Chameau Professor
of Control and Dynamical Systems
Electrical Engineering
and BioEngineering

Division of Engineering and Applied Science
California Institute of Technology


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Videos with overview of research

Aimed to be accessible to a general audience with an emphasis on neuroscience, biology, medicine, and tech, with new material on social architecture. Not much math. Mostly. Everything is in this dropbox folder:

Dropbox folder

It's not very well organized but there are a variety of subfolders with videos, slides, and papers. Download the videos or they will run in preview mode and terminate early.

The overarching theme is universal laws and architectures, with an emphasis on theoretical foundations, and applications to complex networks in tech, bio, neuro, med, eco, cyberphys, and societies. Central concepts are laws/layers/levels, virtualization, robust-efficiency and speed-accuracy tradeoffs (SATs), diversity-enabled sweet spots (DeSS), bowtie and hourglass, evolvability, horizontal transfer, virality, SLSDNQD (sparse, local, saturating, delayed, noisy, quantized, distributed) in sense\comms|compute/actuate control system components.

As usual, analysis is more advanced than synthesis, though progress on synthesis has been dramatic in recent years particularly due to System Level Synthesis (SLS).

0.0.SystemicFragility focuses on analysis of systemic fragilities in layered architectures motivated by 2020-21, including covid, healthcare, language, false beliefs, social media, zombies, systemic racism, criminal (in)justice, law, 14th amendment, corporate power and governance, predation and parasitism, innate vs adaptive, vaccines, inequality, climate change, etc.

0.1.CDS141 is for spring 2021 term course CDS 141 on Network Control, mostly undergrad, more breadth than depth, but lots of accessible details, especially on SLS. More emphasis on synthesis with case studies from sensorimotor control and neuroscience, covid, cell biology, and smartgrid.

0.2.SocSciArch is a new theory of social architecture based on tradeoffs and layering. Surprising and inspiring animal models from elephants, bonobos, orcas (EBOs) illustrate how completely different organisms and lifestyles can share common and remarkably effective and robust architectures. Contrast with humans, chimps, and baboons, though one event from the latter offers hope. Unfortunately, humans are driving all to extinction, including, apparently, other humans.

1.0.IntroOverview is a broader introduction to these ideas with a broad variety of motivating case studies. The above folders have newer material in many cases.

1.1.NewNeuroExmpls gives more details and probably our most interesting examples of synthesis and layered architectures (using methods that are very accessible but mostly not scalable, addressed elsewhere)

1.2.NewBE random recent talks to bioengineering audiences (interpreted broadly)

1.3.FragilityIntro and 1.4.FragxArcDetails are older versions of 0.0.SystemicFragility with some additional details in places

2.1.Intro2MoreResearch has reviews of past research topics that are still highly relevant in these files and folders:

0.Overview.mp4 is an old intro to this research
1.IntroWIthNeuroArch  is a very short intro to the neuro research, details above
2.DynsZerosWaterbed  focuses on why unstable zeros are so bad, with freq and time domain
3.GlycoOscillations about our Science paper on glycolytic oscillations.  A classic.  Largely ignored.
4.MedPhysio&HeartRateVar explains patterns of HRV in health and disease. PNAS.
5.ZombieScaleFreeInternet discusses Zcience=Zombie Science with classic scale-free Internet
6.QuakesFires is more Zcience with earthquakes and wildfires

Brief Bio

John Doyle is the Jean-Lou Chameau Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems, Electrical Engineer, and BioEngineering at Caltech, and received the BS&MS in EE, MIT (1977), and PhD in Math, UC Berkeley (1984)). He was a consultant at Honeywell Systems and Research Center from 1976 to 1990.

Research is on mathematical foundations for complex networks with applications in biology, technology, medicine, ecology, neuroscience, and multiscale physics that integrates theory from control, computation, communication, optimization, statistics (e.g. Machine Learning). An emphasis on universal laws and architectures, robustness/efficiency and speed/accuracy tradeoffs, adaptability, and evolvability and large scale systems with sparse, saturating, delayed, quantized, uncertain sensing, communications, computing, and actuation. Early work was on robustness of feedback control systems with applications to aerospace and process control. His students and research group developed software packages like the Matlab Robust Control Toolbox and the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML).

Prizes, awards, records, championships include the 1990 IEEE Baker Prize (for all IEEE publications), also listed in the world top 10 “most important" papers in mathematics 1981-1993, IEEE Automatic Control Transactions Award (twice 1998, 1999), 1994 AACC American Control Conference Schuck Award, 2004 ACM Sigcomm Paper Prize and 2016 “test of time” award, and inclusion in Best Writing on Mathematics 2010. Individual awards include 1977 IEEE Power Hickernell, 1983 AACC Eckman, 1984 UC Berkeley Friedman, 1984 IEEE Centennial Outstanding Young Engineer (a one-time award for IEEE 100th anniversary), and 2004 IEEE Control Systems Field Award. Best known for fabulous friends, partner, colleagues, and students. Has held world and national records and championships in various sports, but is otherwise quite fragile.

Old NIH Style Bio

(Old) Athletics Bio

Old Application Papers

For recent theory papers see Nikolai Matni

For fairly complete list of references see Google Scholar

Neuroscience and Machine Learning : Interpretation of the Precision Matrix and Its Application in Estimating Sparse Brain Connectivity during Sleep Spindles from Human Electrocorticography Recordings Das, Sampson, Lainscsek, Muller, Lin, Doyle, Cash, Halgren, Sejnowski, Neural Computation, 2017

Education and Neuroscience: Tutorial on education for Conference on Decision and Control, 2016

Medicine: Robust efficiency and actuator saturation explain healthy heart rate control and variability‎ Li, Cruz, Chien, Sojoudi, Recht, Stone, Csete, Bahmiller, Doyle (2014), P Natl Acad Sci USA 111 (33)

Medicine: Sepsis: Something Old, Something New, and a Systems View J Crit Care. (2012)

Universal architectures: Architecture, constraints, and behavior, JC Doyle, MC Csete, P Natl Acad Sci USA, vol. 108, Sup 3 15624-15630

Biology: Gycolytic oscillations and limits on robust efficiency, FA Chandra, G Buzi, JC Doyle Science 333(6039):187-192, July 2011

Turbulence: Amplification and nonlinear mechanisms in plane Couette flow., D Gayme, B McKeon, B Bamieh, A Papachristodolou, and J Doyle. Physics of Fluids v23:6:065108 (2011)

Biology: Analysis of autocatalytic networks in biology, G Buzi, U Topcu, J Doyle, Automatica 47:1123-1130 (2011)

Earthquakes: The magnitude distribution of earthquakes near Southern California faults Page, Alderson, and Doyle JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 116, (2011)

Physics: On Lossless Approximations, the Fluctuation-Dissipation Theorem, and Limitations of Measurements, H Sandberg, JC Delvenne, JC Doyle, IEEE Trans Auto Control, v56:2, 293-308 (2011)

Wireless: Cross-layer design in multihop wireless networks, L Chen, SH Low, and JC Doyle, Computer Networks 55:480–496 (2011)

Circuits: Solving Large-Scale Hybrid Circuit-Antenna Problems Lavaei, Babakhani, Hajimiri and Doyle, IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems I, vol. 58, no. 2, pp. 374-387, Feb. 2011.

Complexity: Contrasting Views of Complexity and Their Implications For Network-Centric Infrastructures Alderson and Doyle, IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SYSTEMS, MAN, AND CYBERNETICS—PART A: SYSTEMS AND HUMANS, VOL. 40, NO. 4, JULY 2010

Internet: Mathematics and the Internet: A Source of Enormous Confusion and Great Potential Willinger, Alderson, and Doyle, Notices of the AMS Volume 56, Number 5 (2009)

Fire: Fire in the Earth System, Science 324, 481 (2009)

Biology: Robustness of Cellular Functions, Stelling, Sauer, Szallasi, Doyle, and Doyle, Cell, 2004

Biology: Reverse Engineering of Biological Complexity, Csete and Doyle, Science, (2002)


  • Dennice Gayme (Hopkins) named Carol Linde Croft Faculty Scholar.
  • Na (Lina) Li (Harvard) gets NSF CAREER and AFOSR YI awards.
  • Javad Lavaei (Berkeley) gets SIAM Control and Systems Theory Prize and AACC Eckman, and too many other awards to list.
  • Old: Discover magazine "This man wants to control the internet" by Carl Zimmer, Discover magazine, 2008.
  • Newer: Blog and new videos Follow link to dropbox folder with accessible introductory videos and case studies in neuroscience, cell biology, and medical physiology. Our you can go directly to the dropbox folder or see above video lists.

Please download the .mp4 files from the dropbox, otherwise they will run in preview mode, which limits the time.

Old talk slides

U Wisc Madison CS Sept 2012 pdf

UCSB Sage lectures, May 2012. (These are pdf files. Ask me for the ppt if you want to steal anything. I would be very flattered.)

Lecture 1 May 7, 2012

Lecture 2 May 14, 2012

Lecture 3 May 21, 2012

Lecture 4a May 30, 2012

Lecture 4b May 30, 2012

Summary: Universal laws and architectures (maybe start here)

Old Teaching Material


Mailing Address

John Doyle
California Institute of Technology
Control and Dynamical Systems, MC 107-81
1200 E. California Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91125 USA

Contact information

E-mail: doyle AT caltech dot edu
Office: 210 Annenberg,
Phone: 626.395.4808

Admin Assistant: Monica Nolasco
Office: 107 Steele,
Email: mnolasco AT caltech dot edu
Phone: 626.395.4140

Other Caltech links