Bordeaux University, IMS-lab, Building A31
351 cours de la Libération - 33405 Talence - France
Email: - Tel : +33 5 4000 2416 (direct)

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Plenary lecture at IEEE SysTol 2021 conference

I gave a plenary talk at the 5th International Conference on Control and Fault-Tolerant Systems (IEEE SysTol) 2021. See at here.

Keynote speaker and “General Chair” – Aerospace-2021 conference

I gave a keynote lecture at 2nd International Conference on Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering. 27-29 September 2021, Lyon, France. See at here.

IFAC Newsletter (December 2020): Advanced model-based FDI for the Airbus A350 Fleet

Today, Airbus A350 XWB is undoubtedly the most modern and efficient commercial jetliner in the world. Since January 2015, this aircraft is flying worldwide with a high performance robust model-based monitoring method on-boarded. This exceptional achievement has been resulted from an inspiring collaboration between my research team and Airbus on FDIR issues in aircraft systems, starting with mid-2000s. With current airworthiness certification standards in civil aviation, extremely rigorous specifications must be satisfied, not only in nominal flight regimes, but also in extreme, unusual, non-standard/off-nominal and unexpected flight conditions. The certification testifies that new systems meet all requirements set by the aviation regulatory authorities (FDA / EASA), and that they themselves do not introduce new risks. Achieving flight-proven and certified model-based monitoring systems has been a tall order and required several years of research and innovation, ground V&V activities and in-flight tests and maturation.

Five years after the first A350 commercial flight, this note posted on the IFAC Blog and IFAC social media looks back at some lessons learnt from this amazing success story. The note has been prepared by Dr. Philippe Goupil (eXpert FDIR – A/C Control Architecture & Functions, Airbus, Toulouse – France) and myself. See also IFAC Newsletter, December 2020.

What about the aircraft of the 2030s and beyond? In civil aviation operations, the vector is pointed toward more autonomy and intelligence in the cockpit. Future avionics will have to ensure more autonomy and must provide safety functionalities at least equivalent to those of today blended-crew task environments, while coupled to a new cockpit concept. Solving the puzzle of autonomy requires new concepts and cross-domain methods. An exhaustive discussion can be found in: A. Zolghadri, “On flight operational issues management: Past, present and future”. Annual Reviews in Control. Vision article, 2018. pdf file.

Just published

Below some newly published papers (2020-2021). See at here for a complete list of my publications.

  • Perodou A., C. Combastel, A. Zolghadri (2021). Critical-Time Analysis of Cyber-Physical Systems subject to Actuator Attacks and Faults. IEEE 60th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control (CDC). December 13-15, 2021, Austin, Texas, USA.
  • Perodou A., C. Combastel, A. Zolghadri (2021). Towards Anomaly-Tolerant Systems by Dissipation Block Synthesis. 5th International Conference on Control and Fault-Tolerant Systems (IEEE SysTol). Saint-Raphaël, France during Sept 29 – Oct 1, 2021.
  • Ifqir S., C. Combastel, A. Zolghadri (2021). Set-based Multi-Sensor Data Fusion For Integrated Navigation Systems. 5th International Conference on Control and Fault-Tolerant Systems (IEEE SysTol). Saint-Raphaël, France during Sept 29 – Oct 1, 2021.
  • Ifqir S., C. Combastel, A. Zolghadri, G. Alcalay, P. Goupil, S. Merlet (2021). Multi-Sensor Data Fusion For Civil Aircraft IRS/GPS/ILS Integrated Navigation System. European Control Conference (ECC). Rotterdam, The Netherlands, June 29 – July 2, 2021.
  • Apaza-Perez W. A., A. Girard, C. Combastel, A. Zolghadri (2021). Symbolic observer-based controller for uncertain nonlinear systems. American Control Conference (ACC). New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, May 26-28, 2021.
  • Apaza-Perez W.  A., C. Combastel, A. Zolghadri (2020). On distributed symbolic control of interconnected systems. The International Journal of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. Vol. 30, No. 4, December 2020. pdf file.
  • Apaza-Perez W. A., A. Girard, C. Combastel, A. Zolghadri (2021). Symbolic observer-based controller for uncertain nonlinear systems. IEEE Control Systems Letters. October 2021. Vol. 5, Issue 4. pdf file.
  • Combastel C., A. Zolghadri (2020). Distributed Kalman Filter with Unique Symbols Provider and Symbolic Zonotopes for the Robust State Estimation in CPS. International Journal of Control, Taylor and Francis. 93:11, 2596-2612, 2020. pdf file.
  • Apaza-Perez W. A., C. Combastel, A. Zolghadri (2020). A symbolic approach to distributed control of interconnected systems. 59th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control (CDC). December 14-18, 2020, Jeju Island, Republic of Korea. See pdf presentation.

COCOTIER project

What is COCOTIER project ? COCOTIER (COncept de COckpit et Technologies Intégrées En Rupure, 2019-2022) is a collaborative and exploratory project on new technologies for future intelligent cockpit in Single Pilot Operations (SPO, 2030+). In SPO, the root problem is that the coordinated crew will not be available onboard as a resource during complex situations. Therefore, moving to SPO requires that the single pilot be assisted by advanced  onboard automation providing new piloting support services. This prompted COCOTIER project. The project is supported by the French Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) and coordinated by Airbus. The kick-off meeting took place on December 2, 2019 in Toulouse – France.

Budget : DGAC support: about 17.3 MEuros – Total budget: about 34.6 MEuros.

Who are the partners ? The project involves 14 industrial and academic partners:

  • Industrial partners: Airbus, Dassault aviation, SAFRAN, Thales, ATR, Factem, OKTAL Synthetic Environment, Ratier Figeac, Vodea and Zodiac Aero Electric.
  • Academic partners: IMS Lab – U-Bordeaux, LAAS-CNRS – Toulouse, LEAD Lab – Toulouse, ONERA (French Aerospace Lab), ENAC (French Civil Aviation University).

What are IMS guys doing within this project ? IMS focuses on new methods for fault-tolerant multi-sensor data fusion for autonomous navigation during the landing approach of a large civil aircraft. The methodology under investigation is based on a multi-layer hierarchical architecture which can integrate several heterogeneous information sources. The system is intended to increase the performance of in-service navigation systems, and to assist the single pilot for correct management of usual and extreme flights circumstances. It takes advantage of robust local non linear filtering, and also set-membership techniques and zonotopic Kalman filtering (recently developed by C. Combastel, see for example here and here).

IMS project managers : Pr. Ali Zolghadri and Dr. Christophe Combastel. Postdoc fellow: Sara Ifqir.


– New (May 11, 2021): IMS deliverable S5.8.1.2 can be downloaded at here (authorized members only). Destination: Airbus.

– The next meeting of the project will take place on June 15, 2021 at Airbus, Toulouse-France.

– IMS deliverable S5.8.1.1 can be downloaded at here (authorized members only). Destination: Airbus.

– Postdoctoral position: This offer is now closed. Sara Ifqir will be continuing to work on COCOTIER project until October 1, 2021 .

– Master thesis project, starting with February 2021 — the subject can be downloaded at here. Nicolas Bandet has been selected and hired. He is working on monitoring issues.

Postdoctoral openings

I am always looking for outstanding and highly motivated people willing to work on challenging scientific projects.

I have not yet planned 2021 openings. They will be announced later.

2020 (closed):

Due to coronavirus outbreak, postdoc recruitment in 2020 has been delayed to fall 2020.
  • The first call can be downloaded at here. This call is now closed. Dr. Arthour Perodou has been hired since Sptember 2020. See his CV at here.
  • Second postdoc position is related to the COCOTIER project. This call is also closed. Dr. Sara Ifqir will be continuing one year more.

2019 (closed):

  • Sara IFQIR started on December 2, 2019 to work on the COCOTIER Project. See her CV at here.
  • After a two-year postdoc position in Bordeaux supported by SysNum, Willy Alejandro Apaza Perez left IMS-lab in May 2020 for L2S-lab (Paris) to continue his research under the supervision of Dr. Antoine Girard. Good continuation Alejandro !


Coronavirus outbreak: stay of Prof. Lee in Bordeaux has been cancelled

Due to coronovirus outbreak, the stay of Prof. Edward Lee in April has been canceled - and will hopefully be postponed.

Prof. Edward A. Lee (UC Berkeley, USA) in Bordeaux: April 2020

I  have the pleasure to welcome Prof. Edward A. Lee (Robert S. Pepper Distinguished Professor, University of California — Berkeley, USA) in April 2020 in Bordeaux. Prof. Lee is an internationally recognized pioneer in research in Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS). He has delivered more than 180 keynote talks and other invited talks at venues worldwide (h-index=84 with more than 48000 citations). He has pointed out the failure of standard abstraction layers, the need of reliable timing behavior, and lack of temporal semantics of existing programming language models for CPS design. Prof. Lee has led the development of several influential open-source software packages, notably Ptolemy and its various spinoffs. See his resume here.

During his stay, he will share his experience on open issues in CPS modeling, control and safety management, and emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) issues. His coming to the University of Bordeaux is supported by the cluster SysNum. He will give a conference on “interaction, observation (and Determinism and Free Will)” on April 14, 2020, at 10:00, at the IMS lab:


Interaction is more powerful than observation. This may help to explain the recent revolution in machine learning, the power of feedback systems, the limitations of the Turing-Church model of computation, the differences between cyber-physical systems and computing systems, and the limits of objectivity. But what is interaction? It requires first-person involvement, a self, but the concept of "a self" is treacherous. In this talk, I examine the differences between interaction and observation from a technical point of view. I leverage the results of four Turing Award winners, starting with the concept of a zero-knowledge proof (introduced by Shafi Goldwasser and Silvio Micali), which requires first-person interaction. I continue with Judea Perle's demonstration that observation of data alone, without any interaction with the mechanisms that produce the data, cannot be used, by itself, to infer causality. It reveals only correlation. I then show that this observation has a strong connection to a classic result by Robin Milner, who shows that two automata that cannot be distinguished by observation alone may be able to be distinguished through interaction. These technical interpretations of interactions lead inevitably to treacherous ground, connecting with deep philosophical questions about determinism and free will.


More details will be available soon.


Plenary talk at ICINCO 2019 conference

I gave a plenary talk at the 16th International Conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics 2019 – 29-31 July, Prague, Czech Republic.

The abstract, video and pdf file of the talk are available at here.


Some open conferences, talks and interviews

I have given a number of open conferences and interviews for the general public, and participated to panel debates at international or French events. Below some selected ones since 2016:

  • Opening panel at ICINCO 2019. Theme: The rise of Artificial Intelligence: Now, Near and Far.
  • Panel discussion at MEA 2017. Theme: Innovation in aerospace.
  • Below, a short YouTube video on my CNRS Innovation medal:

  • Appeard in the French journal “La tribune”. Theme: Future Single Pilot Operations (2030+), and self-piloting and self-learning planes (2050+). See here.

  • Press conference (in French) organized by  the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) on perspectives and applications in control“. See here.
  • Invited talk (general public, in French): Les mardis de l’innovation, November 2016, CNRS, Paris, France. Theme: Connected transport.
  • Invited talk (general public, in French) at the “Fédération de Recherche du CNRS Charles Hermite”, November 2016, Nancy, France. Theme: Numerical sciences and industry 4.0.

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©Ali Zolghadri - 2019