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2017: John Baras
Recipient of Richard E. Bellman Control Heritage Award

Text of Acceptance Speech:

Dear President Masada, colleagues, students, ladies and gentlemen.

I am deeply moved by this award and honor, and truly humbled to join a group of such stellar members of our extended systems and control community, several of whom have been my mentors, teachers and role models throughout my career.

I am grateful to those who nominated me and supported my nomination and to the selection committee for their decision to honor my work and accomplishments.

I was fortunate through my entire life to receive the benefits of exceptional education. From special and highly selective elementary school and high school back in Greece, to the National Technical University of Athens for my undergraduate studies and finally to Harvard University for my graduate studies. My sincere and deep appreciation for such an education goes to my parents who distilled in me a rigorous work ethic and the ambition to excel, my teachers in Greece for the sound education and training in basic and fundamental science and engineering and to my teachers and mentors at Harvard and MIT (Roger Brockett, Sanjoy Mitter and the late Jan Willems) and the incredibly stimulating environment in Cambridge in the early 70’s.

Many thanks are also due to my students and colleagues at the University of Maryland, in the US and around the world, and in particular in Sweden and Germany, for their collaboration, constructive criticism and influence through the years. Several are here and I would like to sincerely thank you all very much.

I am grateful to the agencies that supported my research: NSF, ARO, ARL, ONR, NRL, AFOSR, NIST, DARPA, NASA. I am particularly grateful to NSF for the support that helped us establish the Institute for Systems Research (ISR) at the University of Maryland in 1985, and to NASA for the support that helped us establish the Maryland Center for Hybrid Networks (HyNet) in 1992.

I would also like to thank many industry leaders and engineers for their advice, support, and collaboration during the establishment and development of both the ISR and HyNet to the renowned centers of excellence they are today.

Most importantly I am grateful to my wife Mary, my partner, advisor and supporter, for her love and selfless support and sacrifices during my entire career.

When I came to the US in 1970 I was debating whether to pursue a career in Mathematics, Physics or Engineering. The Harvard-MIT exceptional environment allowed me freedom of choice. Thanks to Roger Brockett I was convinced that systems and control, our field, would be the best choice as I could pursue all of the above. It has indeed proven to be a most exciting and satisfying choice. But there were important adjustments that I had to make and lessons I learned.

I did my PhD thesis work on infinite dimensional realization theory, and worked extensively with complex variable methods, Hardy function algebras, the famous Carleson corona theorem and several other rather esoteric math. From my early work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Electronic Warfare (the “cross-eye” system) and in urban traffic control (adaptive control of queues) I learned, the hard way, the difficulty and critical importance of building appropriate models and turning initially amorphous problems to models amenable to systems and control thinking and methods. I learned the importance of judiciously blending data-based and model-based techniques.

In the seventies, I took a successful excursion into detection, estimation and filtering with quantum mechanical models, inspired by deep space laser communication problems, where my mathematical physics training at Harvard came in handy. I then worked on nonlinear filtering, trying to understand how physicists turned nonlinear inference problems to linear ones and investigate why we could not do the same for nonlinear filtering and partially observed stochastic control. This led me to unnormalized conditional densities, the Duncan-Mortensen-Zakai equation and to information states. This led me naturally to construct nonlinear observers as asymptotic limits of nonlinear filtering problems and the complete solution of the nonlinear robust output feedback control problem (nonlinear H-infinity problem) via two coupled Hamilton Jacobi Bellman equations. We even investigated the development of special chips to implement real-time solutions, a topic we are revisiting currently.  

With the development and progress of the ISR I worked on many problems including: speech and image compression breaking the Shannon separation of source and channel coding, manufacturing processes, network management, communication network protocols, smart materials (piezoelectric, shape memory alloys), mobile wireless network design, network security and trust, and more recently human-machine perception and cognition, networked control systems, networked cyber-physical systems, combining metric temporal logic and reachability analysis for safety, collaborative decision management in autonomous vehicles and teams of humans and robots, new analytics for learning and for the design of deep learning networks mapping abstractions of the brain cortex, quantum control and computing.

Why I am telling you about all these diverse topics? Not to attract your admiration. But because at the heart of all my works are fundamental principles and methods from systems and controls, often appropriately extended and modified. Even in my highest impact (economic and social) work in conceiving, demonstrating and commercializing Internet over satellite services (with billions of sales world-wide – remember me when you use Internet in planes over oceans), we modified the flow control algorithm (the TCP) and the physical path, to avoid having TCP interpret the satellite physical path delay as congestion. That is we used systems and control principles.

Our science and engineering, systems and control, has some unparalleled unifying power and efficiency. That is, if we are willing to build the new models required by the new applications (especially models requiring a combination of multiple physics and cyber logic) and if we are willing to learn and apply the incredible new capabilities and technologies that are developed in information technology and materials. As is apparent especially in this conference (ACC), and in the CDC conference, by any measure, our field is exceptionally alive and well and continues to surprise many other disciplines by its contributions and accomplishments, which now extend even in biology, medicine and healthcare. So for the many young people here, please continue the excitement, continue getting involved in challenging and high impact problems, and continue the long tradition and record of accomplishments we have established for so many years. And most importantly continue seeking the common ground and unification of our methods and models.

Let me close with what I consider some major challenges and promising broad areas for the next 10 years or so:

1)     Considering networked control systems we need to understand what we mean by a “network” and the various abstractions and system aspects involved. Clearly there are more than one dynamic graphs involved. This needs new foundations for control, communication, information, computing.

2)     Systems and control scientists and engineers are the best qualified to develop further the modern field of Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE): the design, manufacturing/implementation and operation of complex systems with heterogeneous physical, cyber components and even including humans.

3)     The need for analog computing is back, for example in real-time and progressive learning and in CPS. Some of the very early successes of control were implemented in analog electromechanical systems due to the need for real-time behavior. Yet we do not have a synthesis theory and methodology for such systems due to the heterogeneous physics that may be involved. Nothing like we have for VLSI.

Thank you all very much! This is indeed a very special day for me! 

2017: John S. Baras
Recipient of Richard E. Bellman Control Heritage Award

For innovative contributions to control theory, stochastic systems, and networks and academic leadership in systems and control


John S. Baras holds a permanent joint appointment as professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering and the Institute for Systems Research. He was the founding director of ISR, which is one of the first six National Science Foundation engineering research centers. Dr. Baras is the Lockheed Martin Chair in Systems Engineering and is the founding and current director of the Center for Hybrid and Satellite Communication Networks, a NASA commercial space center. He also serves as a faculty member of the university's Interdisciplinary Program in Applied Mathematics and an affiliate professor in the Computer Science Department. 

Dr. Baras’ research interests include scaleable multicast security; integrated management of hybrid communication networks; modeling and performance evaluation of large broadband hybrid networks; fast internet over heterogeneous (wireless-wireline) networks; manufacturing process selection for electromechanical products; intelligent control; wavelets; robust speaker identification; low complexity, high fidelity, low rate speech coding; image processing and understanding; learning clustering algorithms and classification; distributed control (or decision) systems; stochastic dynamic model building; stochastic control and scheduling; real-time sequential detection and estimation; computer-aided control systems design; queuing systems; quantum communications; nonlinear systems; and radar systems modeling and performance evaluation and distributed parameter systems.

A Fellow of the IEEE, Dr. Baras has served the organization in various leadership positions. He also serves on the editorial boards of numerous mathematics and engineering journals and book series, and consults extensively with industry and government on various automation and telecommunication problems. He is the recipient of two Invention of the Year awards from the University of Maryland, holds two patents, and has received many awards for his research and publications. Dr. Baras received his B.S. in electrical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Applied Math from Harvard University.

2017: Lucy Y. Pao
Recipient of Control Engineering Practice Award

For pioneering applications of advanced control to wind turbines and wind farms


Lucy Pao is a Professor in the Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering Department at the University of Colorado Boulder in the USA. She has completed sabbaticals at Harvard University (2001-2002), the University of California, Berkeley (2008), the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (2009), the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study in Delmenhorst, Germany (2016-2017) and the ForWind Center for Wind Energy Research at Oldenburg University, Germany (2016-2017). She earned B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. Her research has primarily focused on combined feedforward and feedback control of flexible structures, with applications ranging from atomic force microscopy to disk drives to digital tape drives to megawatt wind turbines and wind farms. She is a Fellow of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Selected recent awards include the 2012 IEEE Control Systems Magazine Outstanding Paper Award (with K. Johnson), the 2015 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Journal on Control and Optimization Best Paper Prize (with J. Marden and H. P. Young), and the Scientific Award 2017 from the European Academy of Wind Energy. Selected professional society activities include being a Fellow of the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (2009-present), General Chair of the 2013 American Control Conference, member of the IEEE Control Systems Society (CSS) Board of Governors (2011-2013 and 2015), IEEE CSS Fellow Nominations Chair (2016-present), and member of the IFAC Executive Board (2017-2020). In her free time, she enjoys reading, baking, biking, running, playing the piano, and travelling with her family. She and her husband have two children who now attend Stanford University.

2017: Ketan Savla
Recipient of Donald P. Eckman Award

For fundamental contributions to cyber-physical systems, network flows, queuing systems, and combinatorial optimization applied to transportation robotics


Ketan Savla is an assistant professor and John and Dorothy Shea Early Career Chair in Civil Engineering at the University of Southern California, with joint appointments in the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (courtesy), and the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering-Systems (courtesy). Prior to that, he was a research scientist in the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems at MIT. He obtained his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and M.A. in Applied Mathematics from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and B. Tech. in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. His current research interest is in distributed robust and optimal control, dynamical networks, state-dependent queueing systems, and incentive design, with applications in civil infrastructure and autonomous systems. His recognitions include CCDC Best Thesis Award from UCSB, NSF CAREER, an IEEE CSS George S. Axelby Outstanding Paper Award, and AACC Donald P. Eckman Award. He currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Conference Editorial Board of the IEEE Control Systems Society, the IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, and the IEEE Control Systems Letters. 

2017: Miroslav Krstić
Recipient of John R. Ragazzini Education Award

For outstanding contributions to textbook writing, industrial collaboration, and mentoring of students to enter the control field


Miroslav Krstić  is Distinguished Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, holds the Alspach endowed chair, and is the founding director of the Cymer Center for Control Systems and Dynamics at UC San Diego. He also serves as Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at UCSD. As a graduate student, Krstic won the UC Santa Barbara best dissertation award and student best paper awards at CDC and ACC. Krstic is Fellow of IEEE, IFAC, ASME, SIAM, and IET (UK), Associate Fellow of AIAA, and foreign member of the Academy of Engineering of Serbia. He has received ASME Oldenburger Medal, ASME Nyquist Lecture Prize, ASME PaynterOutstanding Investigator Award, the PECASE, NSF Career, and ONR Young Investigator awards, the Axelby and Schuck paper prizes, the Chestnut textbook prize, and the first UCSD Research Award given to an engineer. Krstic has also been awarded the Springer Visiting Professorship at UC Berkeley, the Distinguished Visiting Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Invitation Fellowship of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and honorary professorships from four universities in China. He serves as Senior Editor in IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control and Automatica, as editor of two Springer book series, and has served as Vice President for Technical Activities of the IEEE Control Systems Society and as chair of the IEEE CSS Fellow Committee. Krstic has coauthored twelve books on adaptive, nonlinear, and stochastic control, extremum seeking, control of PDE systems including turbulent flows, and control of delay systems.