Stéphane Lafortune, professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, received the David E. Liddle Research Excellence Award from the College of Engineering honoring his contributions to system and control theory, and especially discrete event systems.
Prof. Lafortune is an international leader in discrete event systems, which has applications in IoT, software systems, process control systems, and transportation systems.
“Stéphane’s research is conceptually deep and technically sophisticated,” says Khalil Najafi, the Peter and Evelyn Fuss Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “It reveals excellent command of the theory of discrete event systems and remarkable creativity.”
Demos Teneketzis, professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Prof. Lafortune’s research on diagnosis of discrete event systems is described as seminal to the field, and is highly cited.
Prof. Lafortune’s following work in this space solves fundamental problems and opens up new areas of research and applications. This includes contributions to decentralized supervisory control, deadlock avoidance, elimination of blocking, fault diagnosis, collision avoidance in vehicular networks, and modular control of discrete event systems.
From this research, Prof. Lafortune co-created Gadara, a controller that can anticipate and prevent situations that might cause software deadlocks. This project was followed by more general controller synthesis efforts in ExCAPE: Expeditions in Computer Aided Programming, and Prof. Lafortune served on ExCAPE’s executive committee and as co-lead of its education and knowledge transfer.
Recently, his interests focus on supervisory control, cyber-security, and privacy using obfuscation.
In teaching, he has taught a remarkable array of courses, 15 in all, ranging from introductory to graduate level courses, and graduated 21 PhD students who have gone on to highly successful careers.
In addition, Prof. Lafortune is co-author with Christos Cassandras, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boston University, of the leading textbook on discrete event systems, Introduction to Discrete Event Systems, now in its second edition.
He has served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Discrete Event Dynamic Systems: Theory and Applications since 2015, and as a former Chair (2012-2014) and current member (since 2004) of the steering committee of the Workshop on Discrete Event Systems (WODES).
Since joining the faculty in 1986, his breadth of research is evidenced by the diverse funders of his research projects, including the US National Science Foundation, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) STARnet Program, HP Laboratories, the US Army Research Office, the US Office of Naval Research, the Idaho National Laboratory, and the Federal Highway Administration, among other institutions.
Prof. Lafortune was named an International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) Fellow in 2017, and an IEEE Fellow in 1999. He has won the Axelby Outstanding Paper Award from the IEEE Control Systems Society twice, in 1994 and 2001. He has received two other College of Engineering Awards: the 2014 Vulcans Education Excellence Award and the 2015 Herbert Kopf Service Excellence Award. And, he received the Inventor Recognition Award from U-M in 1999.