Nyquist's Criterion
of Stability
In the chapter on stability it was argued that a linear network is stable if
and only if its characteristic polynomials have
(a) no roots with a positive real part and/or
(b) simple imaginary roots (situated on the ju axis of the (El)
splane).
Nyquist's criterion of stability describes a test by which, without
actually finding the roots, it is possible to determine whether or not Con
ditions (El) exist. For reasons to become evident later, we shall treat the
two cases (a) and (b) separately.
El Case of No Imaginary Roots
We shall make direct use of the first consequence of the residue theorem
(Appendix B), restated here with a different notation:
If the function /(s) of the complex variable s = a + jc o is expressible
as a quotient of two polynomials in s,
/(s) = TTTv
then the number N of cw (or ccwt) encirclements of the origin of the
/(s)plane, as a closed curve C is followed in a cw (or ccw) sense in the
splane, is equal to the number Nt of roots of Qi(s) minus the number N2 of
roots of Qi(s) that lie within C:
N = Ni N*. (E2)
t cw and ccw are abbreviations for clockwise and counterclockwise, respectively.
514
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Sec. El Nyquist's Criterion of Stability
515
J
2
Root of OAs)
(a)
+2
(b)
Fig. El. An example
A simple example may help clarify this statement. Consider the poly
nomials Qi(s) = s + 1, Q2W = s — 1 so that
/(«) =
+ 1
 l'
Qi(s) has a root at « = —1 and Q2(s) at s = 1 (Fig. El (a)). First we
shall let s follow, in a cw sense, the curve Ci which encloses the root of
Q2(s) but not that of Qi(s), and then C2 which encloses both roots. The
procedure will be to map the curves Ci and C2 in the /(s)plane by sub
stituting in /(s) the values that s takes as it follows these curves. For ex
ample, as s describes the segment abc (Fig. El (a)) it becomes s = 2 + ju
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516
Nyquist's Criterion of Stability App. E
with u varying from 0.5 to 0 to —0.5. The function/(s) becomes
/(«) =
3 + ju 3 + co»
2u
 J
1 + ju 1 + u2 1 + u2
and varies from 2.6  j0.8 to 3 + jO to 2.6 + j0.8. Figure E1(b) shows
the complete mapping of the curves Ci and C2. We notice that the map of
d encircles once the/(s)plane origin in a ccw sense when Ci is described in
a cw sense in the splane. We have N = — 1. Equation (E—2) therefore
gives Ni — N2 = — 1 or iV2 = 1 + Ni , meaning that Q2(s) has one more
root within C\ than Qi(s); indeed (see Fig. E1(a),) Q2(s) has one root
within Ci (JV2 = 1) and Qi(s) has none (Ni = 0). The map of C2 does not
encircle the origin of the /(s)plane: N = 0. Equation (E2) therefore
gives Ni = N2, meaning that Qi(s) and Q2(s) have an equal number of
roots enclosed by C2. This is indeed the case (see Fig. E1(a)), since Qi(s)
and Q2(s) have each one root within C2 (Ni = N2 = 1).
Summarizing the procedure, we ask s to follow a given curve C, let us
us say in a cw sense in the splane; the values that * takes are reported to
us for the mapping of C; we substitute every reported value of s into f(s)
and record the result on the /(s)plane; thus, point by point, we map the
curve C; when this is completed, we examine the number N of cw encircle
ments of the /(s)plane origin; this is the number of roots that the nu
merator of f(s) has in excess of the number of roots of the denominator
within the given curve C. Notice that we do not really know the number
of roots the numerator and denomi
nator have within C, but only the
difference of the number of these roots.
We will now apply these results to
the problem of stability. Let Q2(s) = 1
and Qi(s) = Q(s), the characteristic
polynomial, so that
/(«) =
Curve C
If, in addition, we choose the curve C
to enclose all possible roots of Q(s)
with a positive real part, as shown in
Fig. E2, then the number of en
circlements of the origin of the f(s)
plane, which has now become the
Q(s)plane, will be equal to the num
ber of roots of Q(s) within C—that is,
with a positive real part. This is the
essence of Nyquist's criterion, which
may now be stated as follows:
s  plane
Fig. E2. The curve C in the 8plane
enclosing all values of s with a x>si
tive real part
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Sec. El Nyquist's Criterion of Stability
517
A linear network operating under a mode corresponding to the characteristic
polynomial Q(s) is stable if and only if the map of the curve C (shown in
Fig. E2) does not encircle the origin of the Q(s)plane. For each encirclement
(cw or ccw depending on whether the curve C was described respectively
in a cw or ccw sense) of the Q(s)plane origin there corresponds a root of
Q(s) with a positive real part.
Examples of the application of this criterion are given in Sec. 54.
In Sec. 55 the criterion is applied in its more conventional form where/(s)
is taken to be the network's transfer function, the characteristic poly
nomial Q(s) appearing in the denominator.
E2 Case of Imaginary Roots
If the characteristic polynomial Q(s) has roots on the ju axis of the
splane, stability requires that these roots should be simple. For example,
let s = ±ja be a pair of such roots. Since they are roots of Q(s), we shall
have Q(±ja) = 0. When mapping the curve C (which passes through
these roots) we shall find that the map goes through the origin. This is a
very welcome result because not only have we detected an imaginary root
of Q(s) but in addition we actually know the root: it is the value of s = ju
which caused the map of C to go through the origin. If the root is s = ja,
and remembering that its conjugate s = — ja must also be a root, we may
divide Q(s) by s2 + a2 to obtain a polynomial F(s) with that root removed.
If the root was not simple (causing instability), then F(s) still contains
the root. This can easily be detected by again dividing F(s) by s2 + a2.
Actually, we could have originally divided Q(s) by (s2 + a2)2 = s4 +
2a2s2 + a4: if the division leaves a nonzero remainder, the root is simple;
if the remainder vanishes, the root is at least double. As an example, con
sider the polynomial
Q(«) = s5 + s4 + 2s* + 2s2 + s + 1.
When mapping the curve C we shall find that we are forced to pass through
the origin of the Q(s)plane when s takes the value s = ±j on the curve C.
If we divide Q(s) by s4 + 2s2 + 1 we find no remainder indicating a multiple
root (in this case a double root s = dbj, s = dtzj).
If the imaginary roots are found to be simple, we still have to investigate
the possibility of other roots with a positive real part causing instability.
Here we have two alternate approaches. One will be to start anew with
the Nyquist plot of the given polynomial with the imaginary roots re
moved (by dividing Q(s) by factors such as s2 + a2 corresponding to the
imaginary roots). The other alternative is to modify the curve C to bypass
these roots, as shown in Fig. E3, by describing ccw semicircles of infinitely
small radius and centers at the roots. While s follows a semicircle around
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518
Nyquist's Criterion of Stability App. E
Fig. E3. Modified contour on the splane to bypass the
imaginary roots of Q(s)
the root ja it will take the value
s = ja + rt'* (r > 0)
with 4> varying from — x/2 to 0 to +t/2. Notice that
,» + a* = j2art>* + r2tfl*
or, for r —> 0,
s2 + a2 —*j2art'*.
The corresponding values of Q(s) = (s* + a2)F(s) will be
j2arF(ja)t'*,
which describes a ccw semicircle starting at (tf> = — x/2)
2arF(»
and ending at (tt> = +w/2)
2arF(ja).
These remarks are applied in Sec. 551 to a specific example.
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