What is Control?

Control is ubiquitous. We live our everyday lives surrounded by all sorts of control systems, and we are for the most part, unaware of them.

Anything that moves, changes in time, has dynamics and in order that such dynamics function properly, it needs control. Control governs, or regulates, how the system behaves or functions. A helicopter would immediately fall once its controller stops functioning. Our body is a huge collection of control systems: cells, tissues, organs all function according to certain biological, chemical, or physical rules, and they are controlled by such rules. Without control our heart would malfunction or even cease to work, and we would stop living. All electric/electronic appliances are controlled according to some control laws. They include the air-conditioners, refrigerators, TVs, radios, audio and video players, and of course, computers.

Automobiles and airplanes are full of control systems. The fuel supply of a car is now carefully controlled by a fuel injection system. An automobile engine may knock or stall if its ignition timing is not properly controlled. An airplane must control its direction, 3-dimensional positions (yaw, pitch and roll angles), and advanced control mechanisms are employed to maintain its proper ight positions.

Control is a fundamental discipline that underlies all our lives. The IEEE Control Systems Society aims at clarifying its far-reaching power, pursuing various new and exciting applications, and exploring yet unknown new methodologies that contribute to the advancement of human lives.

For more advanced, up-to-date examples, see our "Impact of Control Technology" page.