Petar V. Kokotović received graduate degrees in 1962 from the University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and in 1965 at the Institute of Automation and Remote Control, USSR Academy of Sciences, Moscow. During his studies, he worked for two six month periods in 1956, at Electricite de France, Paris and then in 1957, at AEG, Stuttgart, Germany. From 1959 until 1966, he was with the Pupin Reseach Institute in Belgrade, Yugoslvia. From 1966 until 1990 he was with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Coordinated Sciences Laboratory at the University of Illinois, Urbana, where he held the endowed Grainger Chair. In 1991 he joined the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he is currently the Director of the Center for Control Engineering and Computation.
In the 1960’s, Kokotović developed the sensitivity points method, a precursor to adaptive control, still in use for automatic tuning of industrial controllers. In the 1970’s, he pioneered singular perturbation techniques for multi-time-scale design of control systems and flight trajectories, which found widespread applications. One of them was a coherency aggregation methodology for large scale Markov chains and power systems. In the 1980’s, Kokotović and coworkers identified the main forms of adaptive systems instability and introduced redesigns that made adaptive controllers more robust. Kokotović’s current research is in nonlinear control, both robust and adaptive. He initiated the development of a popular nonlinear recursive design-backstepping, and its use for robust and adaptive nonlinear control. As a long-term industrial consultant, Kokotovic contributed to the design of computer controls for car engines and automotive systems at Ford, and to power system stability analysis at General Electric. Recently, he led a five-year collaborative research (with United Technologies) on nonlinear control of axial compressors for jet engines.
Professor Kokotović supervised some 30 Ph.D. students and 20 postdoctoral researchers. With them he co-authored numerous papers and ten books, four of which appeared in 1995-96. Professor Kokotović is a fellow of the IEEE and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. He is the recipient of the two highest control engineering awards: 1990 Quazza Medal by the International Federation of Automatic Control, and the 1995 Control Systems Field Award by the IEEE. He also received an Eminent Faculty Award, two Outstanding IEEE Transactions Paper Awards (1983 and 1993), and delivered the 1991 IEEE Control Systems Society Bode Prize Lecture. His most recent recognition is the 2002 IEEE James H. Mulligan Jr. Education Medal.