Principal Investigator

Prashant G. Mehta

2-page Bio-sketch [pdf; last updated August 2021]

Curriculum Vitae [pdf; last updated in June 2021]

Google scholar page



Prashant Mehta received his M.S. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1996 and the Ph.D. degree in Applied Mathematics from the Cornell University in 2004 (with Prof. Tim Healey). He is now a Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He is affiliated with the Coordinated Science Laboratory, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Neuroscience program at UIUC. He was the co-founder and the Chief Science Officer of the startup Rithmio whose gesture recognition technology was acquired by Bosch Sensortec in 2017. Prior to his academic appointment at UIUC in 2005, he worked at United Technologies Research Center (1996-98 and 2002-05) where he invented the symmetry-breaking solution to suppress combustion instabilities. This solution — which helped solve a sixty year old open problem — has since become an industry standard and is widely deployed in jet engines and afterburners sold by Pratt & Whitney.

At UIUC, Prashant works with his students on mathematical and computational aspects of dynamics and control theory. His most significant recent contribution is the feedback particle filter algorithm (see recent projects for details on ongoing research in his lab). He is passionate about working with and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students. His students have won the best paper awards at IEEE CDC 2007, 2009, 2019, and have been finalist for the best paper awards at ACC 2010 and at IEEE CDC 2012. He teaches dynamics and control classes as well as the graduate course sequence on engineering mathematics (see list of courses taught). For his teaching, he frequently makes the Incomplete list of teachers rated as excellent at UIUC.

He serves as an Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control (2019-), Systems and Control Letters (2011-14) and the ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement and Control (2012-16). He guest edited the special issue of the ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement and Control to commemorate the life, achievements and impact of Rudolph E. Kalman.  He is a senior member of IEEE, and a member of ASME and SIAM.

Postdoctoral Researcher

Udit Halder

I am currently focusing on emerging applications of control theory in the broad field of soft robotics. As a part of the CyberOctopus project, our research has led to biomechanical models of a flexible arm and control methodologies for its precise manipulation. Employing experimental techniques, we measure material elastic properties of octopus arm tissue. I also study the stereotypical wave propagation phenomenon observed in octopus arms. In a similar spirit, my past research included investigation of waves in natural swarms, e.g. bird flocks, fish schools etc. 

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Graduate Students

Heng-Sheng Chang

In 2017, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the National Taiwan University (NTU). Currently, I am pursuing a Ph.D. in the Mehta research group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). My current project is focused on energy shaping control for soft actuators, with the aim of advancing the state of the art in this area of soft robotics through a combination of design, simulation, and experimental evaluation. Additionally, I have been appointed as a teaching fellow for the ME360 signal processing course for the SP2023 semester, during which I was honored with the Robert E. Miller Excellence in Teaching Award. 

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Tixian Wang

My hometown is Nanjing which is a both historic and modern city in China. I received my B.E degree in Mechatronics Engineering from Zhejiang University at Hangzhou, China in 2019 and M.S. degree in Mechanical Science and Engineering from UIUC in 2020. I worked with Amir and Prof. Mehta on sensory motor control and reinforcement learning for optimal locomotion gaits in robotic systems modeled as coupled rigid bodies during my master. Now, as a member of CyberOctopus team, I closely work with Udit on model-based control of octopus arm movements, including bend propagation. Currently, I’m also working on sensory feedback control and neuromuscular control of an octopus arm.

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S. Yagiz Olmez

I did my B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Bilkent University in 2019, where I worked with Bilkent Kindergarten to develop educational robots for my final year project. I also hold a minor in Economics. During my B.S., I had the opportunity to spend a semester at the National University of Singapore. In my first year at UIUC, I worked on gain function approximation in high-dimensional settings using deep learning methods. My current research focuses on epidemiological modeling. I worked as Graduate Teaching Assistant for ME 360 in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020.

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Anant Joshi

My research is currently on applying particle methods for observer design to problems in reinforcement learning. The project involves studying the ensemble Kalman filter, and finding ways to apply the same idea to solve optimal control problems which appear in reinforcement learning. 

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Alumni - Ph.D.

Jin Won Kim is now a Postdoctoral research scientist at Institute of Mathematics, University of Potsdam in Brandenburg, Germany.
Ph.D. 2022; Duality for Nonlinear Filtering

Amirhossein Taghvaei is now an Assistant Professor at University of Washington in Seattle.
Ph.D. 2019; Design and Analysis of Particle-based Algorithms for Nonlinear Filtering and Sampling

Chi Zhang is now a Data Scientist at Experian DataLabs
Ph.D. 2017; Controlled Particle Systems for Nonlinear Filtering and Global Optimization

Adam Tilton is now a Fellow at Nike
Almost Ph.D. 2015; for his excellent contributions to machine learning for motion sensing applications   

Tao Yang is now a Data Scientist at Facebook
Ph.D. 2014; Feedback Particle Filter and its Applications

Kun Deng is now a VP of Application Engineering at Black Sesame Technology
Ph.D. 2013; Model Reduction of Markov Chains with Application to Building Systems

Huibing Yin is now a Software Engineer at Yahoo!
Ph.D. 2012; Noncooperative Static and Dynamic Games: Addressing Shared Constraints and Phase Transitions

Yu Sun is now a Senior Software Engineer at LinkedIn
Ph.D. 2011; An Information Theoretic Study of Modeling and Control of Dynamical Systems

Alumni - M.S.

Rohan Arora now a Technical Lead at IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center
M.S. 2016; Metrics for Analytics and Visualization of Big Data with Applications to Activity Recognition

Shane Ghiotto is now a Principal Engineer at Nike
M.S. 2014; Feedback Particle Filter for Target State Estimation

Krishna Medarametla is now a Senior Manager at highradius
M.S. 2014; Comparison of Two Nonlinear Filtering Techniques - Extended Kalman Filter and the Feedback Particle Filter

Joseph Niedbalski is now a Senior Principal Mechanical Engineer at Abbott Labs, Chicago
M.S. 2007; Full and Reduced Order Estimation of Traffic Dynamics using Markov Chains

Paul Wang is now an Associate at Merill Lunch, Hong Kong
M.S. 2007; Dynamics of Delay Differential Equations in Communication Networks