Control-theoretic methods for biological networks

Franco Blanchini, Hana Ei-Samad, Giulia Giordano, Eduardo D. Sontag

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


Feedback is both a pillar of control theory and a pervasive principle of nature. For this reason, control-theoretic methods are powerful to analyse the dynamic behaviour of biological systems and mathematically explain their properties, as well as to engineer biological systems so that they perform a specific task by design. This paper illustrates the relevance of control-theoretic methods for biological systems. The first part gives an overview of biological control and of the versatile ways in which cells use feedback. By employing control-theoretic methods, the complexity of interlaced feedback loops in the cell can be revealed and explained, and layered feedback loops can be designed in the cell to induce the desired behaviours, such as oscillations, multi-stability and activity regulation. The second part is mainly devoted to modelling uncertainty in biology and understanding the robustness of biological phenomena due to their inherent structure. Important control-theoretic tools used in systems biology are surveyed. The third part is focused on tools for model discrimination in systems biology. A deeper understanding of molecular pathways and feedback loops, as well as qualitative information on biological networks, can be achieved by studying the 'dynamic response phenotypes' that appear in temporal responses. Several applications to the analysis of biological systems are showcased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2018 IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, CDC 2018
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781538613955
StatePublished - Jan 18 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event57th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, CDC 2018 - Miami, United States
Duration: Dec 17 2018Dec 19 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings of the IEEE Conference on Decision and Control


Conference57th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, CDC 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Control and Optimization


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