Date of Award

Summer 2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical/Computer Engineering

Committee Director

W. Steven Gray

Committee Member

Celeste M. Belcastro

Committee Member

Oscar R. Gonzalez

Committee Member

Alex Pothen

Committee Member

Min Song


It has been observed that atmospheric neutrons can produce single-event upsets in digital flight control hardware. Potentially, they can reduce system performance and introduce a safety hazard. One experimental system-level approach investigated to help mitigate the effects of these upsets is NASA Langley's Recoverable Computer System. It employs rollback error recovery using dual-lock-step processors together with new fault tolerant architectures and communication subsystems.

In this dissertation, a class of stochastic hybrid dynamical models, which consists of a jump-linear system and a stochastic finite-state automaton, is used to describe the performance of a Boeing 737 aircraft system in closed-loop with a Recoverable Computer System. The jump-linear system models the switched dynamics of the closed-loop system due to the presence of controller recoveries. Each dynamical model in the jump-linear system was obtained separately using system identification techniques and high fidelity flight simulation software. The stochastic finite-state automaton approximates the recovery logic of the Recoverable Computer System. The upsets process is modeled by either an independent, identically distributed process or a first-order Markov chain.

Mean-square stability and output tracking performance of the recoverable flight control system are analyzed theoretically via a model-equivalent Markov jump-linear system of the stochastic hybrid model. The model was validated using data from a controlled experiment at NASA Langley, where simulated neutron-induced upsets were injected into the system at a desired rate. The effects on the output tracking performance of a simulated aircraft were then directly observed and quantified. The model was then used to analyze a neutron-based experiment on the Recoverable Computer System at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. This model predicts that the experimental flight control system, when functioning as designed, will provide robust control performance in the presence of neutron-induced single-event upsets at normal atmospheric levels.