Welcome to the Personal Website of Dr. Anil V. Rao

University Term Professor
Erich Farber Faculty Fellow
Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of Florida
Director, Vehicle Dynamics and Optimization Laboratory

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Dr. Anil V. Rao is currently a University Term Professor and Erich Farber Faculty Fellow in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida where he is director of the Vehicle Dynamics and Optimization Laboratory. Dr. Rao specializes in the following research areas:

  • Novel computational methods for the solution of complex constrained optimal control problems
  • Supporting computational methods including nonlinear optimization techniques and automatic differentiation
  • Applications in aerospace engineering including space flight mechanics, orbital mechanics, and atmospheric flight mechanics
  • Applications in mechanical engineering including robotics, ground vehicles, and optimization of human motion (biomechanics)
  • Development of state-of-the-art software for solving optimal control problems
Mission Statement: to be the world leader in the innovation of advanced computational methods for solving complex constrained optimal control problems. A secondary vision is to be the world leader in the application of these methodologies to problems of current interest in aerospace engineering including problems in space flight dynamics, orbital dynamics, and atmospheric flight mechanics. Our research to date has focused on the development of novel methods that employ collocation at Gaussian quadrature points and has been applied to a variety of modern aerospace engineering problems. Our methods have led to our latest state-of-the-art optimal control software, GPOPS-II, that implements variable-order Gaussian quadrature collocation methods together with sparse nonlinear programming. We are continually seeking talented students to join our group. Please continue to explore the other pages on this website if you have interest in these research areas.
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Recent Major Lab Events

  • 20 November 2016: Professor Anil Rao is honored wth the Erich Farber Faculty Fellow by the University of Florida Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
  • 9 August 2016: Professor Anil Rao delivers presentation at the 6th International Conference on Continuous Optimization (ICCOPT).
  • 31 March 2016: Professor Anil Rao delivers seminar at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
  • 1 December 2015: Professor Anil Rao delivers short course on trajectory optimization at the Doolittle Institute in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
  • 30 October 2015: successful PhD dissertation defense of Dr. Fengjin Liu.
  • 23 October 2015: successful PhD dissertation defense of Dr. Kathryn F. Graham.
  • 9 July 2015: Professor Anil Rao gave a one-day workshop on optimal control at the 2015 International Symposium on Computer Simulation in Biomechanics in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • 15 - 17 June 2015: Professor Anil Rao chaired two sessions on optimal control and applications and presented his research on graph coarsening methods research at the 2015 British-French-German Conference on Optimization held at Imperial College, London.
Recent Publications

  • Liu, F., Hager, W. W., and Rao, A. V., "Adaptive Mesh Refinement Method for Optimal Control Using Decay Rates of Legendre Polynomial Coefficients," IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology, Published Online, 6 June 2017. DOI: 10.1109/TCST.2017.2702122.
  • Weinstein, M. J. and Rao, A. V., "Algorithm: ADiGator, a Toolbox for the Algorithmic Differentiation of Mathematical Functions in MATLAB Using Source Transformation via Operator Overloading," ACM Transactions on Mathematical Software, In Press (Accepted for Publication), May 2017.
  • Cannataro, B., Rao, A. V., and Davis, T. A., "State-Defect Pairing Graph Coarsening Method for Karush-Kuhn-Tucker Matrices Arising in Orthogonal Collocation Methods for Optimal Control," Computational Optimization and Applications, Vol. 64, No. 3, July 2016, pp. 793 - 819.
  • Hager, W. W., Hou, H., and Rao, A. V., "Convergence Rate for a Gauss Collocation Method Applied to Unconstrained Optimal Control," Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications," Vol, 169, No. 3, June 2016, pp. 801 - 824. DOI 10.1007/s10957-016-0929-7.
  • Weinstein, M. J. and Rao, A. V., “A Source Transformation via Operator Overloading Method for the Automatic Differentiation of Mathematical Functions in MATLAB,” ACM Transactions on Mathematical Software, Vol. 42, No. 2, Article 11, June 2016, pp. 11:1 - 11:44.
  • Graham, K. F. and Rao, A. V., “Minimum-Time Trajectory Optimization of Low-Thrust Earth-Orbit Transfers with Eclipsing,” Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 53, No. 2., March - April 2016, pp. 289 - 303.
  • Liu, F., Hager, W. W., and Rao, A. V., “Adaptive Mesh Refinement for Optimal Control Using Mesh Size Reduction and Discontinuity Detection,” Journal of the Franklin Institute, Vol. 352, No. 10, October 2015, pp. 4081 - 4106. doi:10.1016/j.jfranklin.2015.05.028.
  • Graham, K. F. and Rao, A. V., “Minimum-Time Trajectory Optimization of Many Revolution Low-Thrust Earth-Orbit Transfers,” Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 52, No. 3, May - June 2015, pp. 711 - 727. Article Available by Clicking Here.
  • Limebeer, D. J. N. and Rao, A. V., “Faster, Higher, and Greener: Vehicular Optimal Control,” IEEE Control Systems Magazine, Vol. 35, No. 2, April 2015, pp. 36 - 56. DOI: 10.1109/MCS.2014.2384951. Article Available by Clicking Here.
For a complete list of journal articles published by VDOL click here.
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