3.1 Motivation
1. Describing function method can be viewed as the frequency response of the
nonlinear system.
2. Frequency response is only an approximately analysis and predict nonlinear
behavior, which is different from the frequency response of the linear system.
3. Describing function method is only suitable to the low degree nonlinearity
system.
4. The main use of describing function method is to predict the limit cycles in
nonlinear systems.
5. It is only an approximation method, there exists inaccurate predictions:
a. There exists difference between the prediction values and actual values in
amplitude and frequency of limit cycle.
b. The limit cycle predicted by the describing function method may not exist.
c. The actual exist limit cycle may not be predicted by the describing function.
x x 2 1 x x 0 .
x2
2
r=0 x u x
To have the solution of fixed amplitude s  s+1
2
u  x 2 x
bw
 A2 sin 2 (t ) A cos(t ) 0
A3 A4
 1 cos 2t cos t  cos t  cos 3t . (2)
2 2
Since the lowpass plant is the characteristic of most physical systems, the higher
frequency signal, cos 3t , in Eq.(2) will become unapparent signal after passing the
lowpass plant. Then, we can have the approximate control signal u as:
A3 A2 d A2 d
u cos t  A sin t x . (3)
4 4 dt 4 dt
[Note]: It does not tell you the signal u in Eq.(2) are similar to the signal u in Eq.(3). It
1
is only tell you that the signal u in Eq.(2) and Eq.(3) has the similarly effect to the
plant.
Eq.(3) can be rewritten in the frequency domain:
u N A, x (4)
G j u
G j N A,  x
1 G j N A, x =0 ,
A 2 j
1+ =0 (5)
j  j +1
2
4
Let the real part and imaginary part equal to zero to solve Eq.(5), we can
obtain A=2, =1 that represent the amplitude and frequency value of the fixed
amplitude and fixed frequency solution in Van der Pol equation. Eq.(5) can be
rewritten to the characteristic Equation of the closedloop:
A2p
1+ =0
4 p  p+1
2
1,2 = A 2 4 A 4 1
1 1 2 2 2
8 64
locate on the imaginary axis which corresponds the fixing oscillation frequency.
gives us the information about the decreasing amplitude and approaching to the value
2, i.e., A , A 2 . Corresponding to A<2 , we obtain the real part of
eigenvalues, Re 1,2 >0 , which gives us the information about the increasing
2
Advantage and Disadvantage of Limit Cycle
1. Laser cavity is a kind of limit cycle application.
2. Dither is a high frequency oscillation source, which assists mechanism systems
with passing the Coulomb friction in the low speed section quickly.
3. Control accuracy will be affected when the oscillation of limit cycle is not in the
high frequency range (close to the control frequency bandwidth).
4. Long period of limit cycle oscillation will fatigue the mechanism structure.
5. It is uncomfortable to the people in the flight if there is a limit cycle in the
dynamic response of the aircraft.
1
an
c t cos nt d t

1
bn
c t sin nt d t

Input y (t ) to a linear system, then the high frequency part of y (t ) will be filtered. In
other words, there is no high frequency signal in the plants output y (t ) .
G j0 G jn0 , n 2,3, ,
BW
the effect of y (t ) in Eq.(1) to the plant can be dB
0 20 30
3
replaced by the similar effect of y (t ) in the
below equation to the plant,
a0
a1 cos n0t b1 sin n0t .
y1 (t )
2
When the nonlinear system is the symmetry type, then a 0 =0 ,
which
1
y t cos t d t
a1 0 0 (3)

1
y t sin t d t
b1 0 0 (4)

a1
tan 1 is phase shift.
1
b
x is input amplitude.
4
Harmonic component only:
y1 (t ) B1 sin t (6) Output
which B1 is to be determined.
M
[Note]: To obtain the B1 , it is necessary
to obtain output y (t ) first, because 0 Input
1 2
B1 y (t ) sin td (t ) . M
0
2
y (t ) sin td t t
0
2M
sin td t
0
4M
= .
Therefore, M
4M
y1 (t ) B1 sin t sin t
t
M
Y1 4M
N ( X , )
X X
which M is output amplitude. y1 (t ) Y1 sin t
We have to notice that there is no phase shift in the above equation. The actual output
of the system is y (t ) , which is a pulse and the output y1 (t ) obtained in the describing
function is a sinusoidal wave. It is obvious to see that there exist differences between
the pulse and sinusoidal wave in the shape and characteristic. The reason we can
view y1 (t ) as the approximation of y (t ) is the response of plant to y (t ) similar to the
response of plant to y1 (t ) . How similarity between y (t ) and y1 (t ) depends on the
satisfactory of the basic condition:
G j G jn , n 2,3, 4, .
5
2. Onoff with hysteresis describing function: Output
Compare to the above onoff nonlinearity
describing function, there is an additional
h
delay condition here. There exits output only M
if the input signal is large than a positive value
Input
h. The output will be cut off only if the input M h
signal is less than a negative value h. It is
similar to the switch on and off of a diode.
The additional term of Onoff with hysteresis describing function is phase shift:
4M 4M h
N X ,   sin 1
x x x
which phase can be obtained from:
X sin t1 h
h
t1 sin 1
x
y1 (t ) Y1 sin t  presents the right movement of the figure.
Output
3. Deadzone nonlinearity describing function:
Consider a sinusoidal input of the deadzone 
nonlinear element, one can obtain its output
y (t ) has the form as: Input
y(t)=0, 0<t<t1
Slope=k
6
k X sin t  , t1 t t
1
=0,  t1 <t<
It has to be noticed that the output y (t ) is an
which t1 satisfies:
V
X sin wt 1 = D ? wt 1 sin 1
X
We can have
4 Xk p/ 2 p/2
B1 =
p wt1 sin 2 wtd (wt )  sin wt 1
wt 1
sin wtd (wt )
2Xk
p 1 V V V 2
=  sin  1 
p
2
X X X
K sin 1
X X X
7
KX sin t , 0 t t1
y (t )
KS , t1 t 2
which t1 satisfies
X sin t1 S
S
t1 sin 1 .
X
The fundamental harmonic component of y (t )
is y1 (t ) :
y1 (t ) B1 sin t
4 /2
y (t ) sin td t
which B1
0
4 t1
KX sin 2 t d t
0
4 /2
Ka sin t d t
t1
2K S
2
t
S
1
1 X X
We can have the describing function:
2 K 1 S S
2
B S
N X , 1 00 sin 1 .
X X X X
G(s) H (s)
1 K
1. A constant gain K is included in the forward path in the above right figure. This
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forward path has N times circle when S has a closed path as the above left figure
shows.
2. Assume that there are p unstable poles of 1 KG ( s ) H ( s ) (openloop pole).
3. Assume that there are z unstable zeros of 1 KG ( s ) H ( s ) (closedloop pole).
We have the relation Z N P , which represents the number of clockwise
Nonlinear Nyquist:
Consider the transfer function: Describing
Linear
y ( j ) N X , , Function
r ( j ) 1 N X , , G ( j ) r ( s) + y ( s)
N X , G (s)

The characteristic function is
1 N X , , G ( j )=0
1
G j  (1)
N X , ,
Compare with the linear system, G ( j ) 1 K (2)
changing with the variation amplitude and variation frequency. Now we can
redefine the Nyquist criteria for the nonlinear system: the system is stable if the
path of 1/ N does not enclosed by the path of G ( s) .
point A .
In the following paragraph, the stability determination of the limit cycle will
be introduced.
2
1
1
1 N ( X , )
G ( j ) N ( A, )
10
[Example]: Saturation describing function:
N(X )
2 K 1 1 1 1
N(X ) sin 1 2 10 S y (t )
X X X r (t)=0 + e K u (t )
 1
S 2.1S 100
2
11
Which
2 1 1 1 1
N u (A)= sin + 1 2 , A 1
A A A
=1, A 1
12
A sin t y1
N(A) A N ( A) sin t N ( A)
gain phase
13
14
3.4 MultiNonlinearity Loop
Actuator
r =0 + A0 A1e j1 A2 e j2
N1 ( A1 ) G1 ( j )

G2 ( j ) N 2 ( A2 )
A4e j4 A3e j3
Sensor
N1 ( A1 ) and N 2 ( A2 ) in the above figure represent the nonlinear characteristic of
actuator and sensor. Consider lowpass filter is the characteristic of G1 ( j ) and
G2 ( j ) , the phase and amplitude of all points are:
A1 A0 N1 ( A1 ) , 1 N1 ( A1 )
A2 A1 G1 ( j ) , 2 1 G1 ( j )
A3 A2 N 2 ( A2 ) , 3 2 N 2 ( A2 )
A4 A3 G2 ( j ) , 4 3 G2 ( j )
We have  A4e j4 A0 0
A4 j4
e 1 0 (1)
A0
The first left term in the Eq.(1) is the total closedloop gain and phase:
A
N tot A0 , 4 e j4
A0
which satisfies
A 0 and in Eq.(2) represent the amplitude and frequency of the limit cycle. Similar
to the definition in linear system, the gain margin and phase margin in nonlinear
1. Fixed amplitude A 0 :
GM 20 log N tot A0 , * ,
PM N tot A0 , * ,
15
2. Fixed frequency :
GM 20 log N tot A* , ,
1
PM N tot A* , ,
GM j 0, PM j 0 when j Ntot A, j
1800
[Example]:
2
3
A
Phase
A
16
From the above figures we can find out that there is an unstable response of the
nonlinear system when the input frequency is 0.3< <0.9 .
17
3.5 Problems
(1) Fig.1 presents the servo mechanism including an amplifier, a motor and two gear
wheels. The position of y locates behind the position of x because of the slits of
the gear shown in the Fig.1 (b).
Fig.2 gives the describing functions magnitude N and phase N of the gears
10
slits. The transfer function of the amplitude and motor is . The final block
s(s+1)
diagram is presented in Fig.3. Please analyze is there any limit cycle of the
system. Is the limit cycle stable or unstable? What is its oscillation frequency and
amplitude?
18
(2) Right figure a presents the nonlinear
element and the linear system G(s) . Fig.
4(b) shows the limit cycle frequency =5.9
rad/ sec of the system.What value of
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