Consensus problems in networks of agents with switching topology and time-delays

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R Olfati-Saber, Richard M Murray
IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, 49(9):1520--1533

In this paper, we discuss consensus problems for a network of dynamic agents with fixed and switching topologies. We analyze three cases: i) networks with switching topology and no time-delays, ii) networks with fixed topology and communication time-delays, and iii) max-consensus problems (or leader determination) for groups of discrete-time agents. In each case, we introduce a linear/nonlinear consensus protocol and provide convergence analysis for the proposed distributed algorithm. Moreover, we establish a connection between the Fiedler eigenvalue of the information flow in a network (i.e. algebraic connectivity of the network) and the negotiation speed (or performance) of the corresponding agreement protocol. It turns out that balanced digraphs play an important role in addressing average-consensus problems. We introduce disagreement functions that play the role of Lyapunov functions in convergence analysis of consensus protocols. A distinctive feature of this work is to address consensus problems for networks with directed information flow. We provide analytical tools that rely on algebraic graph theory, matrix theory, and control theory. Simulations are provided that demonstrate the effectiveness of our theoretical results.