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This paper examines the robustness properties of existing adaptive control algorithms to unmodeled plant high-frequency dynamics and unmeasurable output disturbances. It is demonstrated thai there exist two infinite-gain operators in the nonlinear dynamic system which determines the time-evolution of output and parameter errors. The pragmatic implication of the existence of such infinite-gain operators is that 1) sinusoidal reference inputs at specific frequencies and/or 2) sinusoidal output disturbances at any frequency (including dc), can cause the loop gain to increase without bound, thereby exciting the unmodeled high-frequency dynamics, and yielding an unstable control system. Hence, it is concluded that existing adaptive control algorithms as they are presented in the literature referenced in this paper, cannot be used with confidence in practical designs where the plant contains unmodeled dynamics because instability is likely to result. Further understanding is required to ascertain how the currently implemented adaptive systems differ from the theoretical systems studied here and how further theoretical development can improve the robustness of adaptive controllers.
Date of Publication: Sep 1985