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William Gould Dow Distinguished Lecture

Control: The Hidden Technology

Prof. Karl J. Astrom

The William Gould Dow Distinguished Lectureship is the highest external honor bestowed by the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The Lectureship was established by donations from students and friends of Bill Dow, and recognizes the accomplishments of individuals inthe field of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
The field of automatic control is about 50 years old. It has developed
very rapidly and it is now ubiquitous. This lecture presents some
reflections on the dynamic development of the field. It starts with a
brief history and a discussion of engineering science and natural
science. Automatic control, being the first systems field, was a major
paradigm shift because it fitted poorly in organizations based on
mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering. Key ideas in the
development of Control are presented. The interplay of theory and
applications is discussed as are relations to specific engineering
disciplines, mathematics, physics, computer science and biology.
Particular emphasis is given to the interactions with computing. An
attempt is made to assess the current status of the field and the lecture
ends with some speculations about future development. Questions dealing
with research, education and applications will be covered. An explanation
of the title of the paper will also be provided.

Karl J. Astrom received his PhD from The Royal Institute of Technology in
Stockholm. During his studies he worked on inertial guidance for the
Research Institute of National Defense in Stockholm. He worked for five
years on Computer Control for IBM in Research Laboratories in Stockholm,
Yorktown Heights and San Jose, where he developed new methods for system
identification and minimum variance control that were applied to control
of paper machines. In 1965 he was appointed Professor to the Chair of
Automatic Control at Lund University, where he built the Department from
scratch. Since 2000 he is Professor Emeritus in Lund, and since Jan 1,
2002, he holds the position of Distinguished Visiting Professor at the
University of California in Santa Barbara. He has also served on advisory
boards for companies, such as ASEA, Ericsson and Fisher Control.

Astrom has broad interests in automatic control including, stochastic
control, system identification, adaptive control, computer control and
computer-aided control engineering. He has supervised 45 PhD students,
written six books and more than 100 papers in archival journals. He holds
three patents; one on automatic tuning of PID controllers has led to
substantial production in Sweden.

Astrom is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences
(IVA) and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA), and a foreign
member of the US National Academy of Engineering, the Russian Academy of
Sciences and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Astrom has received
numerous honors, including four honorary doctorates, the Quazza Medal from
IFAC, the Rufus Oldenburger Medal from ASME, the IEEE Field Award in
Control Systems Science and the IEEE Medal of Honor.

Sponsored by

EECS Department