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Adaptive control is the control method used by a controller which must adapt to a controlled system with parameters which vary, or are initially uncertain. For example, as an aircraft flies, its mass will slowly decrease as a result of fuel consumption; a control law is needed that adapts itself to such changing conditions. Adaptive control is different from robust control in that it does not need a priori information about the bounds on these uncertain or time-varying parameters; robust control guarantees that if the changes are within given bounds the control law need not be changed, while adaptive control is concerned with control law changing itself.The foundation of adaptive control is parameter estimation, which is a branch of system identification. Common methods of estimation include recursive least squares and gradient descent. Both of these methods provide update laws which are used to modify estimates in real time (i.e., as the system operates). Lyapunov stability is used to derive these update laws and show convergence criteria (typically persistent excitation; relaxation of this condition are studied in Concurrent Learning adaptive control). Projection (mathematics) and normalization are commonly used to improve the robustness of estimation algorithms.In general, one should distinguish between:When designing adaptive control systems, special consideration is necessary of convergence and robustness issues. Lyapunov stability is typically used to derive control adaptation laws and show .

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