A mixture density network approach to modelling and exploiting uncertainty in nonlinear control problems

Randa Herzallah*, David Lowe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In nonlinear and stochastic control problems, learning an efficient feed-forward controller is not amenable to conventional neurocontrol methods. For these approaches, estimating and then incorporating uncertainty in the controller and feed-forward models can produce more robust control results. Here, we introduce a novel inversion-based neurocontroller for solving control problems involving uncertain nonlinear systems which could also compensate for multi-valued systems. The approach uses recent developments in neural networks, especially in the context of modelling statistical distributions, which are applied to forward and inverse plant models. Provided that certain conditions are met, an estimate of the intrinsic uncertainty for the outputs of neural networks can be obtained using the statistical properties of networks. More generally, multicomponent distributions can be modelled by the mixture density network. Based on importance sampling from these distributions a novel robust inverse control approach is obtained. This importance sampling provides a structured and principled approach to constrain the complexity of the search space for the ideal control law. The developed methodology circumvents the dynamic programming problem by using the predicted neural network uncertainty to localise the possible control solutions to consider. A nonlinear multi-variable system with different delays between the input-output pairs is used to demonstrate the successful application of the developed control algorithm. The proposed method is suitable for redundant control systems and allows us to model strongly non-Gaussian distributions of control signal as well as processes with hysteresis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-158
Number of pages14
JournalEngineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


  • mixture density networks
  • nonlinear control
  • uncertainty


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