Root Locus

Objectives:
Understand
With feedback, the poles of the closed-loop system shift
The shift is a well defined curve, termed a root locus plot
Definitions:
Assume a feedback system of the following form:

K G
U
Y R
where
k ⋅ G(s) =

k⋅z(s)
p(s)

Open-Loop Gain: k G(s)
Closed-Loop Gain:

kG
1+kG

Open-Loop Poles: solutions to p(s) =0
Open-Loop Zeros: solutions to z(s) =0.
Closed-Loop Poles: solutions to p(s) +kz(s) =0.
Root Locus: Plot of the closed-loop poles as k varies from 0 to infinity.
Background:
Feedback is a very useful method for controlling the output of a system. With feedback, it is much easier to
regulate the output and automatically compensate for disturbances, such as noise, aging, manufacturing variations,
etc. Feedback can also make a system behave worse - it can even make a system go unstable.
One property feedback has is that the dynamics of the closed-loop system change as you vary the feedback gain.
Root locus techniques allow you to
Predict how the closed-loop system will behave as you vary the feedback gain (k), and
Pick the 'best' value of k to get the 'best' response possible.
In addition, root locus techniques help provide insight as to how to improve the system's response with a
pre-filter.
What is a root locus plot
NDSU Root Locus ECE 461
J SG 1 rev October 5, 2007
Assume you have a unity feedback system as follows:
K G
U
Y R
where
KG =

kz(s)
p(s)

As you vary k from 0 to infinity, the dynamics of the closed-loop system will vary. The closed-loop system will
be
.

kG
1+kG

=

k⋅z(s)
p(s)+k⋅z(s)

The roots of the closed-loop system determine how the system will behave. Hence, we are interested in the
solutions to
p(s) + k ⋅ z(s) = 0
A root locus plot is a plot of the solutions to p(s)+kz(s)=0 for 0<k< . ∞
NDSU Root Locus ECE 461
J SG 2 rev October 5, 2007
Example: Plot the root locus of
kG(s) =

k
s(s+2)(s+5)

or, equivalently, the solution to
s(s + 2)(s + 5) + k = 0
Using MATLAB to do this with 1000 values of k results in the following plot:

Note the following:
The roots follow a well defined path
At k=0, the root locus starts at the poles of the open-loop system (0, -2, -5)
As k increases, the roots slide together
As k increases further the poles become complex
As k gets really large, the poles go into the right half plane and the system becomes unstable.
This root locus plot is essentially your shopping list: you can place the closed-loop poles anywhere on the above
root locus plot. If you pick a point on the root locus plot, there is a gain, k, which results in that solution. If you
pick a point off the root locus plot, however, there is no solution for k.
NDSU Root Locus ECE 461
J SG 3 rev October 5, 2007
Example: Plot the root locus for the following system
G =

10
s(s+2)(s+4)(s+5)

or equivalently, the roots of
s(s + 2)(s + 4)(s + 5) + 10k = 0
Solution: Picking 1000 points for k results in the following root locus plot
Note again:
The roots follow a well defined path
At k=0, the root locus starts at the poles of the open-loop system (0, -2, -4, -5)
As k increases, the roots slide together
As k increases further the poles become complex
As k gets really big, two of the poles become unstable
NDSU Root Locus ECE 461
J SG 4 rev October 5, 2007