W7: Practical Methods for Real World Control Systems (0197)

Daniel Abramovitch, Sean Andersson, Craig Buhr

Date & Time



Rationale: The proverbial “gap” between control theory and practice has been discussed since the 1960s, but it shows no signs of being any smaller today than it was back then. Despite this, the growing ubiquity of powerful and inexpensive computation platforms, of sensors, actuators and small devices, the “Internet of Things”, of automated vehicles and quadcopter drones, means that there is an exploding application of control in the world. Any material that allows controls researchers to more readily apply their work and/or allows practitioners to improve their devices through best practices consistent with well understood theory, should be a good contribution to both the controls community and the users of control. This workshop is intended as a small but useful step in that direction.

Prerequisite skills (of participants): Undergraduate level knowledge of feedback systems, sampled data systems, and programming. An honest interest in being able to translate control theory into physical control systems.

Intended Audience: We believe that this workshop will be of great interest to three types of audience members:

  1. Academic researchers who are well versed in control theory but would like to learn more about issues practicing control engineers often encounter as well as techniques and methods often used outside of standard textbook solutions to enhance their students’ experience in the classroom and laboratory.
  2. Practicing engineers who work on physical control systems and products that use control with an interest in connecting their work to “best practices” motivated by theory.
  3. Students who may be interested in adding laboratory experiments to their research or want to know how to make what they have learned applicable in industry.

For each of these groups – and those that are somewhere in the intersection of them – this workshop will address the gap from both sides, so as to give the participant a more complete understanding of how it applies to their particular situation.

Topic overview: The general style for each topic will be to present the issue, discuss rational ways of thinking about a solution, and where possible, show a demo to illustrate the idea.


  • Overview, a.k.a. “Mind the Gap.”
  • System Models and Characterizing Them with Measurements, or why it’s both important and annoying to be discrete
  • Simple Controllers for Simple Models, or why so many controllers are PIDs, and why some are not Practical Loop Design, Or Why Most Open Loops Should Be an Integrator, and How to Get There Resonances, Anti-Resonances, Filtering, and Equalization Signal Detection, Sensors, Sample Rates, and Noise (Oh My!)
  • Integrating in Feedforward Control
  • Ask Your Doctor: Is State Space Right for You?
  • Pick a Chip, Any Chip: Or why real-time programming is too important to leave to folks who only know programming
  • Closing Thoughts/Discussion

A web page that holds the information from the brochure can be found here, and a PDF version of the workshop flyer can be found here.  An invitation video is here.


Daniel Abramovitch

Agilent Technologies

Sean Andersson

Boston University

Craig Buhr


Date & Time