Xiangru Xu (徐相如)

Assistant Professor

Department of Mechanical Engineering

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Office: Room 2035, 1513 University Ave, Madison, WI 53706

Lab: Room 3038, 1513 University Ave, Madison, WI 53706

Email: xiangru [dot] xu [AT] wisc [DOT] edu

Lab website

Google Scholar profile

UW-Madison profile

*** Open positions ***

My lab has PhD (2020 Fall) and postdoc positions available. If you are interested, please send me an email with your CV (as well as your transcript, sample paper/report if any). If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out.



2019.8- Assistant Professor, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

2017.7-2019.7, Postdoc, Univ. of Washington-Seattle

Advisor: Behcet Acikmese

2014.8-2017.7, Postdoc, Univ. of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Advisors: Jessy W. Grizzle, Necmiye Ozay

2009.9-2014.7, PhD, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Advisor: Yiguang Hong

2005.9-2009.7, BS, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China


My research focuses on the control of autonomous systems and cyber-physical systems by leveraging mathematical tools from control theory, convex optimization, graph theory, etc. My research strives to build rigorous analytical frameworks and reliable control algorithms to enhance the safety and efficiency of autonomous and cyber-physical systems. Autonomy involves control at different layers, which include the planning layer producing mission sequences, the trajectory layer synthesizing an optimal reference trajectory, and the feedback layer generating the feedback controller for implementation. In the mission planning layer, I work on a matrix-based formulation for finite state machines which are used to model high-level decision making process; in the trajectory optimization layer, I work on the theory of successive convexification for non-convex optimal control problems; in the feedback control layer, I work on provably-safe, optimization-based feedback control design that provides safety guarantee to the system. I also work on the control of cyber-physical systems which consist of a software-based controller interacting with a physical process, and have at their core tight coupling between control, computation and communication. My work in this direction mainly focuses on observer-based periodic event-triggered control design for nonlinear systems, and passivity-based analysis for symbolic controller implementation.

Check our CCTA paper, TAC paper and TASE paper that give the mathematics (theory of control barrier functions) behind this video. Code is available here.

Check our paper SIAM paper that provides the theory of successive convexification algorithms used in this video.


My publication can be found here or my Google Scholar page.


  • Instructor, AE 510 Linear Systems Theory, Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, University of Washington, 19 Winter
  • Guest Lecturer, EECS 598 Hybrid Systems: Specification, Verification and Control, Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Michigan, 15 Fall



Quotes link from Terence Tao's Homepage

Fundamental progress has to do with the reinterpretation of basic ideas. -- Alfred North Whitehead

If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is. -- John von Neumann

God, give us Grace to accept with Serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and Wisdom to distinguish one from the other. -- Reinhold Niebuhr, the Serenity Prayer

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. -- Steve Jobs

About Research

PhD Comics

How to write a great research paper, by Simon Peyton Jones, Microsoft Research, Cambridge.

You and your research, by Richard Hamming

Tutorials on research by Dennis Bernstein

Advice for researchers and students by Michael Ernst

Paper recipe & presentation advice by Michael Gleicher

Math knows All, a very interesting math blog (in Chinese) by Xun Jiang

About Feedback Control

IEEE Control Systems Society, Online Lecture Library, The impact of control technology

Control Cartoons

IEEE Oral Histories: Control Systems, Robotics