Control Systems Principles

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Understanding the details of how systems work is at the heart of control engineering. Using scale models of real systems, like the ones described on the teaching equipment page, is a good way to learn the practical basics. However, once the student has got the 'feel' for how various systems respond, then there comes a need to analyze the system's dynamics in detail, and for this a mathematical model is needed. Deriving mathematical models of physical systems is not straightforward, it requires a good knowledge of the laws of physics and how to apply them in different settings. To help with this, the first edition of the modelling book Introduction to Physical Systems Modelling is available here as an e-book in pdf format. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons License

Please read the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, make sure you understand and accept them. Download the book by clicking on the icon below:

modelling book cover


Once a mathematical model has been derived, then systems theory can be used to determine and analyze a system's properties. At the same time it is also useful to explore a systems behaviour using computer implementions of the mathematical model. In this way it is possible to visualise the likely performance of the system under different conditions - this allows a series of 'what if' simulation studies that can play an important role in developing new systems. In fact, before building a system it is now normal for design engineers to develop sophisticated mathematical models and then use computer simulation to validate the systems performance under the complete range of possible operating conditions. Because of this computer simulation and performance visualisation have become essential parts of the product development cycle.
There are several commercial software packages for modelling and mathematical analysis of system dynamics. Many of these are expensive and complex, such packages are intended for highly sophisticated commercial applications involving safety critical applications. On the other hand, there are excellent low cost (sometimes free) software packages that are perfect for most modelling and analysis applications. Of the many we have tried, we like the philosophy and facilities of SciLab. This is open source software, which does everything needed in mathematical modelling and simulation, including easy to use 'drag and drop' graphical tools for simulation. SciLab can be downloaded free of charge, but we encourage users to make a donation to this worthwhile organisation. Many of the white papers produced by us, will use SciLab for their modelling demonstrations, so click on the White Papers button below and scan through the documents

white papers



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