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Unintentional Expertise: How the Necessity of Working with PID Controllers Across Multiple Domains Fundamentally Improved My Understanding of Control Theory and Practice

April 17 @ 5:45 pm - 7:45 pm PDT

Being fresh out of grad school (FOOGS) in 1988, I reacted to PID controllers in the usual way for young Ph.D. recipients: with a certain “hands-off” smugness. Yet, as the years in industry wore on, I kept encountering these ubiquitous devices in practice and had to learn to deal with them, understand them, and roll my own. What I found led me to consider PIDs, not as a separate art from advanced methods, but as a fundamental building block which can be used as part of most controllers, simple or advanced. It seemed that – at least in the mechatronics world – PIDs were considered too simple for much interest in academia while practicing engineers didn’t seem to care why they were working. In the process world, where PIDs studied far more, the issues and methods of mechatronic PIDs seemed like obscure corner cases. Depending upon the teaching text, issues of sampling and digital representation may have been completely omitted. There were other surprises. While PIDs were almost universal and standard, they were almost never unified or standardized. Furthermore, what seemed to limit performance was not the structure of the controller itself, but the lack of accurate system/process models based on repeated physical system measurements. Finally, the mechatronic and process PID goals and foibles were not that different once one considered the different system, time constant, and measurement constraints. We will discuss these issues with the goal of getting a more unified view of PIDs across our application domains. We will provide a handful of common PID forms and show how they are related, so that we can approach any PID structure with the same analytical approach. We will finally look forward to how PIDs can be used, not only as a fundamental teaching tool for explaining control outside of our research circles, but as a critical component for advanced control methods. As the great Paul Simon might say, “Mama don’t take my PID away.”
Speaker(s): Dr. Danny Abramovitch ,
5:45 – 6:15 : Networking and light dinner
6:15 – 7:15 : Talk and Q&A
7:15 – 7:45 : Networking
Room: SCDI – 2116, Bldg: Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation – SCDI, 500 El Camino Real , Santa Clara , California, United States, 95053

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