Course syllabus suggestions

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If you are planning to use Feedback Systems as a textbook for a course, there are several ways of using the material in the textbook, depending on your audience. This page contains some suggestions for how the material in the text can be taught.

Course for Traditional Engineering Disciplines

When using Feedback Systems to teach a more traditional course in engineering, the same basic syllabus as the one above can be used but the course can be augmented by including the advanced sections in the text and/or including material from the text supplements. The following notes provide guidelines for what additional material can be included:

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10 week course for engineers

A one quarter (10 week) course for seniors and/or first year graduate students in traditional engineering disciplines can cover the major elements of modeling, state space analysis and design, and frequency domain analysis and design. At the undergraduate level, students struggle with the material on Lyapunov functions in Chapter 4 - Dynamic Behavior and so this material should be de-emphasized unless it is particularly relevant.

Suggested syllabus:

Week Chapter Comments
1 Chapter 1 - Introduction 1 lecture on feedback, 1 lecture on control
2 Chapter 2 - System Modeling Include 1-2 examples from Chapter 3 - Examples if desired
3 Chapter 4 - Dynamic Behavior Focus on stability and skip sections on Lyapunov functions
4 Chapter 6 - State Feedback
5 Chapter 7 - Output Feedback Can be covered quicky if review for midterm is required
6 Chapter 8 - Transfer Functions Use Laplace transforms if students have this already
7 Chapter 9 - Frequency Domain Analysis
8 Chapter 10 - PID Control
9 Chapter 11 - Frequency Domain Synthesis
10 Chapter 12 - Robust Performance Discuss selected concepts; review for final

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15 week course for engineers

In a 15 week course, one can cover one chapter per week, with additional time spent on some combination of system modeling (for those students without a strong background in ODEs), Lyapunov functions (in Chapter 4 - Dynamic Behavior), fundamental limits (Chapter 11 - Frequency Domain Synthesis) and robust performance and unmodeled dynamics (Chapter 12 - Robust Performance).

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Frequency domain first

If desired, the material in the course can be inverted so that frequency domain concepts are presented first and state space concepts follow. A typical course sequence would then be:

  • Chapters 1-3: basic concepts of modeling and stability, plus selected examples
  • Chapters 8-12: frequency domain analysis and design
  • Chapters 4-7: state space analysis and design

Some care should be taken in the beginning of Chapter 8 to insure that students are comfortable with modeling a system in state space form


since this form is assumed in deriving the transfer function. This is covered briefly in Chapter 2, but some additional lecture material at the start of Chapter 8 would be prudent.

Course for Non-Traditional Backgrounds

Feedback Systems was written with the intent of being used for courses that included students from the sciences that have non-traditional (engineering) backgrounds. This audience includes students with backgrounds in biology, computer science, economics, ecosystems and geophysics.

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10 week graduate course for non-majors (state space)

For a 10 week graduate course, it would be best to focus on either state space for frequency domain modeling. For many disciplines, state space models are the most relevant and so we present that emphasis here. The material that is likely to take time for students to learn is ODEs (if they have had limited exposure) and nonlinear analysis (especially Lyapunov functions). The material on Lyapunov functions can be skipped if nonlinear systems are not as relevant for a given set of students.

Suggested syllabus:

Week Chapter Comments
1 Chapter 1 - Introduction 1 lecture on feedback, 1 lecture on control
2 Chapter 2 - System Modeling Include 1-2 relevant examples from Chapter 3 - Examples
3 Chapter 4 - Dynamic Behavior Concepts of stability, linear stability
4 Chapter 4 - Dynamic Behavior Lyapunov functions
5 Chapter 6 - State Feedback
6 Chapter 7 - Output Feedback
7 Chapter 8 - Transfer Functions
8 Chapter 9 - Frequency Domain Analysis
9 Chapter 10 - PID Control
10 Chapter 11 - Frequency Domain Synthesis Focus on fundamental limits

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15 week graduate course for non-majors

In a 15 week graduate course, all of the material in the book can be covered, with 2 weeks spent on modeling, 2 weeks on dynamic behavior (including Lyapunov functions), and 2 weeks on frequency domain synthesis (with particular emphasis on limits of performance).