Investigation of a multi-layer perceptron network to model and control a non-linear system
This thesis describes the development and implementation of an on-line optimal predictive controller incorporating a neural network model of a non-linear process. The scheme is based on a Multi-Layer Perceptron neural net-work as a modelling tool for a real non-linear, dual tank, liquid level process. A neural network process model is developed and evaluated firstly in simulation studies and then subsequently on the real process. During the development of the network model, the ability of the network to predict the process output multiple time steps ahead was investigated. This led to investigations into a number of important aspects such as the network topology, training algorithms, period of network training, model validation and conditioning of the process data. Once the development of the neural network model had been achieved, it was included into a predictive control scheme where an on-line comparison with a conventional three term controller was undertaken. Improvements in process control performance that can be achieved in practice using a neural control scheme are illustrated. Additionally, an insight into the dynamics and stability of the neural control scheme was obtained in a novel application of linear system identification techniques. The research shows that a technique of conditioning the process data, called spread encoding, enabled a neural network to accurately emulate the real process using only process input information and this facilitated accurate multi-step-ahead predictive control to be performed.