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Is the design of algorithms to model the physical environment on-topic? To what extent?

In particular, is What algorithm is appropriate for a thermostat controlling the heating of a room with floor heating? on-topic?

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  • $\begingroup$ machine learning is increasingly being used for these types of problems/ applications and is a core/ critical/ emerging area of CS. $\endgroup$ – vzn Jan 11 at 16:23
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If the question is how to model the physics of the environment, I don't think that's on-topic here.

If the question is about methods for controlling the physical environment, I'm not sure. It will probably depend on whether the question is best answered from a computer science perspective or has been studied by computer scientists. In some areas (e.g., the US), control theory has been studied in electrical engineering departments rather than in computer science departments, but apparently in other areas (e.g., France), control theory is more closely associated with computer science. So, it's unclear to me where questions about PID controllers, control theory, and such should fall, but plausibly they could be on-topic here.

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    $\begingroup$ “control theory has been studied in electrical engineering departments rather than in computer science departments" This depends on the locale. In France, control theory is more closely associated with math and CS. This is part of a more general difference between US/UK and France where in France CS historically forked from math far more often than from EE. I don't know to what extent US or France is the odd one out. $\endgroup$ – Gilles Jan 11 at 7:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles, Ahh, I didn't know that! That sounds like an argument for control theory type questions being on-topic here, then. $\endgroup$ – D.W. Jan 11 at 8:15
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW, Germany has CS departments with both heritages. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jan 12 at 8:54
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First of all, I don't know if it is appropriate to post this as an answer but I need 50+ reputation points to comment and I have barely been given the rights to post an answer (thank you, Gilles).

Back to the topic on hand. The following is the same question but stripped of its context:

Given a program that outputs a value which varies with time and which can be influenced with a boolean, causing the value to rise if set to true or to fall if set to false, what algorithm would be suitable for anticipating when to switch said boolean to ensure a certain output value at a certain moment in time considering that the rate of change of the output can also vary?

It is the very same question but without 'physical world' aspect. I would assume this question is on topic, at least according to this meta answer:

Questions about designing algorithms, their correctness, or their complexity fit Computer Science best.

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