Golden Anniversary Jubilee Lecture

The Golden Anniversary Jubilee Lecture was held in 2012, celebrating our 50th year of the Allerton Conference on Communications, Control, and Computing.  The lecture was presented at the Allerton “kick-off” event. The Jubilee Lecturer was  Karl Johan Åström from Lund University, Sweden.

Lecture: “Controls – Past, Present, and Future”
When: 7:00 p.m. – 8:15 p.m., Monday, October 1, 2012
Where: University of Illinois campus. 1122 NCSA, 1205 W. Clark St, Urbana, IL 61801

Abstract: Even if feedback was used in ancient times, it is reasonable to say that the field of control appeared in the mid 1940s.  Control was the first systems field.  It represented a paradigm shift in engineering because it cut across the traditional fields of Mechanical, Electrical, Chemical and Civil Engineering.  A holistic but primitive view of control systems emerged in the 1950s and the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) was formed in 1956.  Education in control spread rapidly to practically all engineering disciplines.  The second phase, starting in the 1960s, was characterized by a very strong progress in control theory driven by the space race and the emergence of computer control.  Theory developed dramatically because of an influx of ideas from mathematics; optimal control and Kalman filtering are particularly noteworthy.  The advances in computing had a major impact; computer control emerged as the standard way of implementing controllers.  Computer based design methods replaced analog techniques and software tools emerged.  The industrial applications also expanded dramatically.  A large number of sub-specialties appeared but the holistic view of the field was unfortunately lost.  In my opinion, we are now entering a third phase driven both by expanding applications, ubiquitous computing, and networks; and a strong interest in feedback and control among our fellow scientists particularly in Physics and Biology.  Industrial development points toward an increased role of systems engineering and model-based development.  What will happen is largely dependent on how the control engineers and scientists respond to these challenges.  The lecture will present some of the key ideas in the development of the field, give a glimpse of the rich and growing industrial applications, and it will end with a few reflections about the future.  Important issues are education and interactions with other fields.

Biography:  Åström was educated at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.  During his studies he worked on inertial navigation for the Research Institute of National Defense.  After working for IBM Research for five years, he was appointed Professor of the Chair of Automatic Control at Lund Institute of Technology/Lund University, where he established a new department.  From 2000 to 2010, he was a professor at UCSB.  He is currently a Senior Professor at Lund University.  Åström has broad interests in control including stochastic control, modeling, system identification, adaptive control, computer control, and computer-aided control engineering.  He is listed in ISAHighlyCited and he has Erdös number 3.  Two of his seven books have been awarded the “Harold Chestnut Textbook Prize” from IFAC.  One paper on self-tuning control, co-authored with B. Wittenmark, was selected for the IEEE book, Control Theory: Twenty-five Seminal Papers 1932-81.  He has several patents; one of them for automatic tuning of PID controllers, held jointly with T. Hägglund, has led to substantial industrial production.  Åström is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and a foreign member of the US National Academy of Engineering, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.  He is a Fellow of IFAC and a Life Fellow of IEEE and he has received many honors; among them six honorary doctorates, the 1985 Rufus Oldenburger Medal from ASME, the 1987 Quazza Medal from IFAC, the 1990 IEEE Control Systems Award, the 1993 IEEE Medal of Honor, and the 2002 Great Gold Medal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering.  In 2003 he was inducted in the Process Control Hall of Fame.