Effects of Delay on the Functionality of Large-scale Networks
Networked systems are common across engineering and the physical sciences. Examples include the Internet, coordinated motion of multi-agent systems, synchronization phenomena in nature etc. Their robust functionality is important to ensure smooth operation in the presence of uncertainty and unmodelled dynamics. Many such networked systems can be viewed under a unified optimization framework and several approaches to assess their nominal behaviour have been developed. In this paper, we consider what effect multiple, non-commensurate (heterogeneous) communication delays can have on the functionality of large-scale networked systems with nonlinear dynamics. We show that for some networked systems, the structure of the delayed dynamics allows functionality to be retained for arbitrary communication delays, even for switching topologies under certain connectivity conditions; whereas in other cases the loop gains have to be compensated for by the delay size, in order to render functionality delay-independent for arbitrary network sizes. Consensus reaching in multi-agent systems and stability of network congestion control for the Internet are used as examples. The differences and similarities of the two cases are explained in detail, and the application of the methodology to other technological and physical networks is discussed.