Bahar Taskesen finalist for the 2023 George Nicholson Award

© 2023 EPFL

© 2023 EPFL

Bahar Taskesen, PhD student at the Risk Analytics and Optimization Chair, has been selected as a finalist for the 2023 George Nicholson Student Paper award at the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Phoenix.

The George Nicholson Student Paper Competition, arguably the most prestigious student award in the operations research community, is held each year since 1975 to honor outstanding student papers in the field of operations research and the management sciences. Bahar was nominated for her paper entitled “Distributionally Robust Linear Quadratic Control.”


Linear-Quadratic-Gaussian (LQG) control is a fundamental control paradigm that is studied in various fields such as engineering, computer science, economics, and neuroscience. It involves controlling a system with linear dynamics and imperfect observations, subject to additive noise, with the goal of minimizing a quadratic cost function for the state and control variables. In this work, we consider a generalization of the discrete-time, finite-horizon LQG problem, where the noise distributions are unknown and belong to Wasserstein ambiguity sets centered at nominal (Gaussian) distributions. The objective is to minimize a worst-case cost across all distributions in the ambiguity set, including non-Gaussian distributions. Despite the added complexity, we prove that a control policy that is linear in the observations is optimal for this problem, as in the classic LQG problem. We propose a numerical solution method that efficiently characterizes this optimal control policy. Our method uses the Frank-Wolfe algorithm to identify the least-favorable distributions within the Wasserstein ambiguity sets and computes the controller's optimal policy using Kalman filter estimation under these distributions.