Principles of Automatic Control

Course Info

Course Number/Code: 16.06 (Fall 2003)
Course Title: Principles of Automatic Control
Course Level: Undergraduate
Offered By: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Department: Aeronautics and Astronautics
Course Instructor(s): Prof. John Deyst
Prof. Karen Willcox
Course Introduction:
Syllabus General InformationLectures

Three sessions per week. One hour each session.


Prof. John DeystProf. Karen Willcox


One session per week. One hour per session.


Lab 1: the week beginning four days after lecture 8.Lab 2: the week beginning same day as on lecture 25.Schedule: TBD (several time slots will be offered).

Reading MaterialRequired

Vegte, John Van de. Feedback Control Systems. 3rd ed. Prentice Hall, 1994.


The following texts are on reserve in the Aero Library and in the Barker Engineering Library:

Ogata, K. Modern Control Engineering. 2nd ed. Prentice Hall, 1990.

Kuo, Benjamin. Automatic Control Systems. 6th ed. Prentice Hall, 1991.

In Addition

While not on reserve, one of the following texts may come in handy:

Ogata, K. Solving Control Engineering Problems with MATLAB®. Prentice Hall, 1994.

Kiev, B. C., and D. C. Hanselman. MATLAB® Tools for Control System Analysis and Design. Prentice Hall, 1994.

Saleh, J. Introduction to Simulink®. 1998. (Handout)

If you find that you are struggling with a particular math concept or skill, please communicate your difficulties with one of the faculty or TA’s so that appropriate resources can be provided.


There will be two lab assignments during the term. Each laboratory will be preceded by a pre-lab assignment issued with the corresponding problem set. The pre-lab assignment must be turned in before doing the laboratory work. No late pre-labs will be accepted and no lab credit will be given without the pre-lab. All laboratories will be carried out by teams of two students. A lab report is required for each lab. This report is due one week after your laboratory session.


There will be two exams during the term: first on same day as lecture 17 and the second one on same day as lecture 31. These will be designed as one-hour exams.

Final Exam

A three-hour examination will be scheduled during the final exam period.

Problem Sets

These will be issued on Thursday in lecture and due at the beginning of lecture on the following Thursday. Late problem sets will not be accepted, except in extenuating circumstances.

Course Learning ObjectivesTo obtain a basic understanding of feedback control systems theory.To obtain the ability to perform analysis and design of linear feedback control systems, using both time and frequency domain techniques.To gain hands on experience analyzing and designing controls for an aerospace-like laboratory system.Grading PolicyACTIVITYGRADEHome Problems25%Laboratories15% TA Evaluation5% Quizzes30%Final Exam25%

MIT’s grading policy can be found at MIT Course Catalogue: Academic Procedures. 

Please take note of the following excerpt:Grades at MIT are not rigidly related to any numerical scores or distribution functions, that is, grades are not awarded solely according to predetermined percentages. As can be seen from the following grade descriptions, a student's grade in a subject is related more directly to the student's mastery of the material than to the relative performance of his or her peers. In determining a student's grade, consideration is given for elegance of presentation, creativity, imagination, and originality where these may appropriately be called for.

Passing Grades

Undergraduate and graduate students who satisfactorily complete the work of a subject by the end of the term receive one of the following grades:

A - Exceptionally good performance demonstrating a superior understanding of the subject matter, a foundation of extensive knowledge, and a skillful use of concepts and/or materials.B - Good performance demonstrating capacity to use the appropriate concepts, a good understanding of the subject matter, and an ability to handle the problems and materials encountered in the subject.C - Adequate performance demonstrating an adequate understanding of the subject matter, an ability to handle relatively simple problems, and adequate preparation for moving on to more advanced work in the field.D - Minimally acceptable performance demonstrating at least partial familiarity with the subject matter and some capacity to deal with relatively simple problems, but also demonstrating deficiencies serious enough to make it inadvisable to proceed further in the field without additional work.Computer Usage

The use of a software package like MATLAB® is very helpful in the study of Feedback Systems. The software can best be used initially to check work that is first done traditionally with pencil and paper. This is particularly helpful when verifying polar plots (Nyquist plots), Bode diagrams and root loci when first attempting to sketch these functions. In addition, step responses in the time domain can be examined in order to build an intuitive sense of the relations between time and frequency domain behavior. We also will use MATLAB® to check the validity of simplifying approximations that are often made when carrying out preliminary designs. Finally we can study more complex problems with a computer-aided design package without the enormous burden of doing extensive computations. We suggest that everyone become familiar with the use of MATLAB® on server or learn to use the Student Edition of MATLAB® (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.) which is available for MS-DOS and Macintosh® Personal Computers. Where necessary in the homework, we will indicate Macros (M-files) available on server which can be used to aid in studying the problem. We will try as much as we can to minimize the need for a student to have to do anything that 'smells' like programming. Remember that we want you to come away with an understanding of feedback theory in some depth. The computer is to aid in achieving this understanding and should be used intelligently as an engineering tool.

Collaboration and Academic Honesty

You are encouraged to collaborate with others on the solution of home problem sets. We believe that there is much to be gained when learning is a shared experience provided that everyone in the group participates in the work. If you do collaborate, the final work you hand in should be your own but you should acknowledge (by including their names) others with whom you have worked. If you use other sources (e.g. 'bibles', the library, etc.) they should also be acknowledged.

It is immature, dishonest, dumb, a waste of time, a waste of paper and nonsensical to copy the work of others (like an old solution or a friend's solution) and submit it as if it were your own. Since problems serve to guide you to develop the skills needed in the subject, not to do the work yourself is foolish; you probably will do poorly in the quizzes and the final examination.

Plagiarism or other forms of cheating are intellectually and personally dishonest. Such dishonesty is a severe breach of the code of the Institute and the engineering profession and will be dealt with seriously and severely.