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Control System Synthesis by Root Locus Method


T H E R O O T L O C U S method solves the problem of

finding the roots of the characteristic equation by a n
extension of concepts now associated with the frequency-
case, a n d then calculates the corresponding value of gain
K. Knowing the roots permits the over-all transfer function
of the system of Figure 1 to be expressed as:
response method. T h e roots describe the natural response ft, 1
of the system, a n d knowing them permits a solution for
Bt (l-*Ai)(l-*/r,)(l-#/r,)
any input. Consider a simple single-loop system, shown in
Figure 1, for convenience in developing a physical picture. For each root r a term of the form A^ ^ can exist in t h e

With the feedback loop open a n d a sinusoidal signal transient response. For a step input the amplitude A t

impressed a t 0 , the feedback, 0 is a similar sinusoid

is given by transform theory in a form which corresponds,
shifted in phase angle a n d attenuated in amplitude as to a product of vectors from all other roots to the given
given by the open-loop transfer function KG(s) = A" G (s). M M
root. Similarly, the over-all frequency response c a n b e
0{8) for s =jco. If the frequency were of the value to

pictured as a product of vectors from all roots to points-
cause a 180-degree phase shift a n d the gain were then along the jco axis. I n a multiple loop system, the inner
selected for unity amplitude ratio, closing the feedback loop is solved first so that it m a y be replaced by a direct
loop would supply the error signal from the feedback signal function.
so that a natural oscillation would be sustained. Lowering Synthesis for a given control system can involve any one
the gain would cause the oscillation to d a m p out, during of four operations: selecting loop gain, changing given
which interval a damped sine wave e" e must be propa
vt jat
poles or zeroes, adding new poles or zeroes, or adding n e w
gating itself around the loop. A n extension of the transfer
function concept, admittedly n o t obvious, is that the phase
shift a n d attenuation of such a d a m p e d sine wave from
error to feedback is obtained simply by substituting the
complex number s = +7' into the function KG(s).
Thus one c a n find the natural response of the system by
finding the values of s which make KG(s) = 1.
T h e graphical technique for computing this function is
explained for the example by reference t o Figure 2.
=A*(l+ris)(l+r *)
2 (1)

1 (2)

T h e complex number s is itself a vector from the origin

to a point which is pictured moving freely over the complex
s plane. T h e phase angle of a vector 1 +ns is the same as Figure 2. Single-loop root l o c u s

that of the vector from the pole 1/ to the s point; the

amplitude is the ratio of line lengths from the pole to the
s point a n d the origin respectively. T h e locus of roots is loops. I n the root locus method, these operations a r e
the p a t h of values of s which make the total phase shift achieved respectively by selecting the position of a root
180 degrees; a point on the locus is a root if gain is selected along a locus, changing the position of given poles or zeroes,,
such that the amplitude ratio around the loop is unity. adding new poles or zeroes, a n d sketching a new root locus
Special parts of the locus such as intervals along the real plot. Other applications a n d development of the method
axis a n d the point of crossing the jco axis are found by in are believed to be great. Thus the classic problem of
finding the zeroes of n-th degree polynomial can be solved
spection a n d the remainder of the locus then sketched.
by successively combining two terms into one, using the
Note that the roots emerge from the open loop poles for
root locus to find the values of the variable which make the
zero loop gain a n d move out along the locus as indicated
ratio of t h e terms equal t o 1 . Multicoupled systems
by the arrows as loop gain is increased. O n e usually selects
involve block diagrams in which intercoupling effects
the desired position of the dominant roots, r a n d r in this x 2
appear as signals being transmitted between loops. Such
systems can be solved by isolation of loops or considering
6& . the effect of each coupling successively.
* * tS)

Digest of paper 50-11, "Control System Synthesis by the Root Locus Method,*' recom
mended by the A I E E Committee on Feedback Control Systems and approved by the
Of AIEE Technical Program Committee for presentation at the AIEE Winter General
Figure 1. General
IT A (s) Meeting, N e w York, . Y., January 30-February 3, 1950. Scheduled for publication
block diagram of a in AIEE Transactions, volume 69, 1950.
single-loop system W. R. E v a n s is with North American Aviation, Inc., Downey, Calif.

MAY 1950 EvansControl System Synthesis by Root Locus Method 405