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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Categories in Control: Applied PROPs

  • Author(s): Erbele, Jason
  • Advisor(s): Baez, John
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public License

Control theory uses `signal-flow diagrams' to describe processes where real-valued functions of time are added, multiplied by scalars, differentiated and integrated, duplicated and deleted. These diagrams can be seen as string diagrams for the PROP FinRel_k, the strict version of the category of finite-dimensional vector spaces over the field of rational functions k = R(s) and linear relations, where the variable s acts as differentiation and the monoidal structure is direct sum rather than the usual tensor product of vector spaces. Control processes are also described by controllability and observability—whether the input can drive the process to any state, and whether any state can be determined from later outputs. For any field k we give a presentation of FinRel_k in terms of generators of the free PROP of signal-flow diagrams together with the equations that give FinRel_k its structure. The `cap' and `cup' generators, missing when the morphisms are linear maps, make it possible to model feedback. The relations say, among other things, that the 1-dimensional vector space k has two special commutative dagger-Frobenius structures, such that the multiplication and unit of either one and the comultiplication and counit of the other fit together to form a bimonoid. This sort of structure, but with tensor product replacing direct sum, is familiar from the `ZX-calculus' obeyed by a finite-dimensional Hilbert space with two mutually unbiased bases. In order to address controllability and observability, we construct the PROP Stateful_k and relate it back to the PROP of signal-flow diagrams. This provides a way to graphically express controllability and observability for linear time-invariant processes.

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