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Networked systems are complex dynamical systems composed of a large number of simple systems interacting through a communication medium. These systems arise as natural models in many areas of engineering and sciences, such as sensor networks, autonomous unmanned vehicles,  biological networks,  and animal cooperative aggregation and flocking.

There are two features that are common to all these systems: first, they deal with complex dynamics; second designing globally optimal behavior for these systems requires the solution of large-scale optimization problems, which typically necessitate a prohibitive amount of computational effort. Desirable features of the operation of these systems include robustness to uncertainties and disturbances, and adaptability to environmental changes.