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Spring 2016
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Inquiry Magazine Archive

  • Spring 2016

    Spring 2016: Premium Blend

    Found in everything from space shuttles to dental fillings, composite materials have thoroughly infiltrated modern society. But their potential is still greatly untapped, offering researchers ample opportunity for discovery.

  • Fall 2015

    Fall 2015: Collision Course

    Within the particle showers created at the Large Hadron Collider, answers to some of the universe’s mysteries are waiting.

  • Spring 2015

    Spring 2015: Almost Human

    Model systems like pigeons can help illuminate our own evolutionary and genomic history.

  • Fall 2014

    Fall 2014: Small Wonder

    UT Arlington's tiny windmills are bringing renewable energy to a whole new scale.

  • Winter 2014

    Winter 2014: Overdue for an Overhaul

    The stability of our highways, pipelines, and even manholes is reaching a breaking point.

  • 2012

    2012: Mystery solved?

    Scientists believe they have discovered a subatomic particle that is crucial to understanding the universe.

  • 2011

    2011: Boosting brain power

    UT Arlington researchers unlock clues to the human body’s most mysterious and complex organ.

  • 2010

    2010: Powered by genetics

    UT Arlington researchers probe the hidden world of microbes in search of renewable energy sources.

  • 2009

    2009: Winning the battle against pain

    Wounded soldiers are benefiting from Robert Gatchel’s program that combines physical rehabilitation with treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • 2009

    2007: Sensing a solution

    Tiny sensors implanted in the body show promise in combating acid reflux disease, pain and other health problems.

  • 2006

    2006:Semiconductors: The next generation

    Nanotechnology researchers pursue hybrid silicon chips with life-saving potential.

  • 2005

    2005: Imaging is everything

    Biomedical engineers combat diseases with procedures that are painless to patients.

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Think Fast

Machine Mentality

Improving real-time decision-making in controllers 

Frank Lewis

Frank Lewis

New technology developed at the UTA Research Institute (UTARI) could allow everything from airplane autopilots to vehicle emission controls to make informed, real-time decisions independently.

Frank Lewis, a professor in the Electrical Engineering Department and at UTARI, developed an innovative process that allows a device to make control decisions in reaction to a set of variables that changes based on each previous decision. Called Integral Reinforcement Learning (IRL), it involves a batch process that requires taking in a set of data before updating the control law.

"Optimal feedback controllers allow a device to use the minimum energy necessary while saving time and fuel," Dr. Lewis explains. "The advantage of using adaptive Integral Reinforcement Learning is that a device now can have optimal controls by looking within the system and calculating changes in real-time rather than offline, where changes can only be made when the device is no longer in use."

Lewis, along with Draguna Vrabie from United Technologies and Kyriakos Vamvoudakis from the University of California at Santa Barbara, was issued a patent to develop new technology for IRL to enable decisions to be made continuously in real time and online, providing greater autonomy and a speedier response.

According to Dr. Vamvoudakis, adaptive integral reinforcement may someday allow machines to adapt to, and work in, increasingly difficult situations: "Efficiency will be defined by the potential to adapt autonomously in complex environments to enable capabilities beyond human limits," he says.

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