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Richard E. Bellman Control Heritage Award

The Bellman Award is given for distinguished career contributions to the theory or application of automatic control. It is the highest recognition of professional achievement for US control systems engineers and scientists. The recipient must have spent a significant part of his/her career in the USA. The awardee is strongly encouraged to give a plenary presentation at the ACC Awards Luncheon.

Dragoslav D. Šiljak

For fundamental contributions to the theory of large-scale systems, decentralized control, and parametric approach to robust stability

Dragoslav D. Šiljak received his doctorate degree (D.Sc.) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Belgrade, Serbia, in 1963. He joined the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Santa Clara University in 1964, where he is presently the Benjamin and Mae Swig University Professor. 

Text of Acceptance Speech: 

July 1, 2010. Baltimore, MD

I am exceedingly happy to receive the Richard Bellman Control Heritage Award. I am thankful to the American Automatic Control Council for recognizing my work as worthy of this award, and I am deeply humbled when I consider the previous recipients of the award.

My first thanks go to my dear wife Dragana who put up for a long time with a workaholic husband with an oversized ambition. I am grateful to Santa Clara University and, in particular, to the School of Engineering for providing institutional support to our research. I am exceedingly thankful to many people from all around the world who came to Santa Clara to work on our projects as fellow researchers on an exploratory journey; and what a journey it has been!

At this occasion, it gives me a great pleasure to recall my visit to University of Southern California and my brief encounter with Professor Bellman. After my talk, he invited me to his office, and among myriad of his interests, he chose to talk with me about his recent work in Pharmacokinetics. At that time, I was deeply into the competitive equilibrium in economics, and we had a very stimulating discussion on the connection of the two fields via the Metzler matrix which I have been using since then in a wide variety of models to this very day.

Looking at this award in a prudential light, my obtaining this award is as much a compliment to the Control Council as it is to me. My winning of this award at Santa Clara University, which is not a research 1 university but prides itself as an excellent teaching institution, proves that the system is open, and that any of you wherever you are can win this award solely by the merit of your research.

I recall when at eighteen I made the Yugoslav Olympic Water Polo Team for the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games. We won all our games except the final one, which ended in a draw. At that time, there were no overtimes and penalty kicks; the winner was determined by the cumulative goal ratio. I continued playing water polo, but did not make the team for the 1956 Melbourne games; I broke my right hand and stayed home. I kept playing on and in 1960 made the team for the Rome Olympics. We did not win a medal in Rome, let alone the gold. At that point I was already a committed researcher in control systems. I continued the research for many years and to borrow from a song by Neil Young:

"I kept searching for a heart of gold, and I was getting old ... "

Today I found a heart of gold. Thank you all very much for your attention, and God bless!