Bryce L. Ferguson

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Bryce L. Ferguson
PhD Student - University of California, Santa Barbara
Center of Control, Dynamical Systems, and Computation
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

I am a PhD student in the department of Electrical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I work under the supervision of Jason R. Marden in the Center for Control, Dynamical-Systems, and Computation (CCDC). I received my B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2018 and 2020 respectively and my A.A. in Mathematics from Santa Rosa Junior College in 2016.

Research Overview: I am interested in the theory of multi-agent systems. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the emergent behavior of multiple decision makers and the mechanisms we can use to influence them. This interest manifests in the context of distributed control in cyber-physical systems and influencing mechanisms in socio-technical systems. To study this, I use tools from game theory, optimization, and control theory.

Select Publications


Cyber-physical human systems - In systems such as traffic networks and power grids, the behavior of human users has a significant impact on system performance. To effectively design these systems, engineers must consider the societal response of their users, around which there exists much uncertainty. With the influx of technology via individuals' personal devices, great opportunities arise to coordinate behavior (e.g.,autonomous routing and load shifting), however so too do great challenges in identifying and designing effective control mechanisms.
Relevant Publications: [TAC], [ACC], [TEAC]
Social Network
Social Networks & Bayesian Persuasion - People are becoming increasingly connected via public and private internet channels. Influencing the flow of information can be effective in altering users' beliefs and behavior such as marketing products and disseminating public safety information. However, there are cases where this phenomenon is anything but positive: conspiracies and fake news. With these online information sharing platforms only growing more numerous, it is becoming invaluable to study what mechanisms we can use to promote truthfulness and clarity.
Relevant Publications: [CDC], [working papers available upon request]
Fleet control
Multi-Agent/Distributed Control - With improved capabilities of small computers, the opportunity to distribute decision making to system sub-components promises to greatly expand and simplify the control of robotic fleets, cloud computing, and more. However, the effective operation of distributed systems is susceptible to communication and sub-system failures. Before wide-spread use, it is necessary to first understand what can be done to make applicable control techniques more robust and identify how components should communicate and make decisions.
Relevant Publications: [DGAA], [CDC]
Security/Defense: Cyber and Physical - With increased autonomy, we would like to make sure our systems remain safe. In large cyber-physical systems, we want to protect information and prevent access to vulnerable processes. Similarly, in physical areas we want to secure, new security technology can help maintain surveillance. To utilize this technology effectively, we must understand how to allocate our resources with uncertainty of what attacks we may see.
Relevant Publications: [Allerton], [ACC*],
  • "Information and Influence: Overcoming and Exploiting Uncertainty in Congestion Games" - Invited seminar for Dynamics and Control of Networks (DANCE) research team at University of Grenoble - Alpes, November 2022.
  • "The Tragedy of the Commons and The Price of Anarchy" - Invited talk for Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG) Climate & Environment working group, October 2022.
  • "Information and Influence: Overcoming and Exploiting Uncertainty in Congestion Games" - Invited seminar for POLARIS research team at University of Grenoble - Alpes, October 2022.
  • "Ensuring the Defense of Paths and Perimeters in Dynamic Defender-Attacker Blotto Games (dDAB) on Graphs" - 58th Annual Allerton Conference on Communication, Control, and Computing at Urbana/Champagne Illinois, September 2022.
  • "Information and Influence: Overcoming and Exploiting Uncertainty in Congestion Games" - ControlX Series at University of Washington, June 2022. [Slides]
  • "Avoiding Unintended Consequences: How Incentives Aid Information Provisioning in Bayesian Congestion Games" - 39th Southern California Control Workshop at University of California, Irvine, April 2022. [slides]
  • "Robust Utility Design in Distributed Resource Allocation Problems with Defective Agents" - The 2021 IEEE Conference on Decision and Contol at Austin, Texas, December 2021. [video] [slides]
  • "The Effectiveness of Subsidies and Taxes in Atomic Congestion Games" - The 2021 IEEE Conference on Decision and Contol at Austin, Texas, December 2021. [video] [slides]
  • "The Impact of Fairness on Performance in Congestion Networks" - The 2021 IEEE American Controls Conference at New Orleans, Louisiana, May 2021. [video]
  • "Research in Congestion Games: Incentives and Information" - Invited talk at Decision Science and Control Lab at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, April 2021.
  • "Carrots or Sticks? The Effectiveness of Subsidies and Tolls in Congestion Games" - The 2020 American Controls Conference at Denver, Colorado, July 2020. [video] [Best student paper award finalist]
  • "Carrots or Sticks? The Effectiveness of Subsidies and Tolls in Congestion Games" - CCDC Prospective Student Visit Day at UC Santa Brabara, California, February 2020.
  • "Utilizing Information Optimally in Distributed Network Routing” - 58th Conference on Decision and Control at Nice, France, December 2019
  • "Optimal Planning of Workplace Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure with Smart Charging Opportunities” - 21st IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems at Maui, Hawaii, USA, December 2018
UCSB Teaching Assistant
  • ECE 149 Fall 2021 - Game Theory for Networked Systems
  • ECE 271C Spring 2021 - Optimal Control and Dynamic Programming (Grader)
  • ECE 149 Fall 2020 - Game Theory for Networked Systems
  • ECE 271C Spring 2020 - Optimal Control and Dynamic Programming (Grader)
  • ECE 594D Winter 2020 - Mechanism Design (Grader)
  • ECE 194V Fall 2019 - Special Topics in Game Theory
  • ECE 194V Winter 2019 - Special Topics in Game Theory
Research Mentoring

Program details

  • NAVFAC Interns on Pier Structure from Motion (SfM) Utilizing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
RMP 2019

Program details

  • "Improving the Efficiency and Scalability of Multi-Drone Surveillance Systems with Decentralized Control” by Adit Shah [PROJECT]
  • "The Self-Driving Pizza Car: Optimizing Control Algorithms for Autonomous Delivery Systems” by Nischal Sinha [PROJECT]
  • "An Efficient and Centralized Multi-Robot Surveillance System with Optimized Path Planning” by Siddharth Ganesan

I have had the fortune of working with many fantastic researchers:

I am a proud native of Petaluma, California. Nicknamed the Egg Basket of The World, Petaluma is known for its historic downtown, local wineries and breweries, and the Petaluma river which lets out into the San Pablo bay. Petaluma also hosted the first organized arm wrestling tournament.

In my free time I enjoy hiking/backpacking, barbecuing, and playing the banjo.

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