Systems and Control Theory
Systems and control theory deals with the behavior of dynamical systems and in particular with controlling dynamical systems with inputs and outputs. In recent years, control theory is witnessing a huge surge of interest due to several new applications:
- Autonomous systems - these are mobile systems that are designed to replace humans in dull, difficult or dangerous tasks. Examples include autonomous vehicles, autonomous underwater robots, drones, etc. Control problems play a fundamental role here, as these systems must function without a human operator.
- Systems biology - recent technological advances provide enormous amounts of data on various biological processes. A typical example is the complete sequencing of the DNA of many organisms. New mathematical models are needed to organize and understand this data. Control theory plays an important role in biotechnology and medicine, to understand and influence the multiple complex feedback loops in living organisms.
- The future electric grid - control algorithms that stabilize the electric grid have been developed for over a century, using very little communication between generators and consumers. This is now changing dramatically, as high speed communication helps to make the grid more reliable, more efficient and will permit the massive penetration of renewable energy sources that generate a randomly fluctuating power output.
- Networked control systems - in traditional feedback control systems the components are connected point-to-point. Recent advances in communication networks and in particular the internet allow closing control loops over long distances. This brings significant advantages, such as low cost, simple installation and maintenance. Applications include space exploration, domestic robots, aircraft, and control of manufacturing plants.