Control Systems/System Metrics

System Metrics

When a system is being designed and analyzed, it doesn't make any sense to test the system with all manner of strange input functions, or to measure all sorts of arbitrary performance metrics. Instead, it is in everybody's best interest to test the system with a set of standard, simple reference functions. Once the system is tested with the reference functions, there are a number of different metrics that we can use to determine the system performance.

It is worth noting that the metrics presented in this chapter represent only a small number of possible metrics that can be used to evaluate a given system. This wikibook will present other useful metrics along the way, as their need becomes apparent.

Standard Inputs

Note:
All of the standard inputs are zero before time zero. All the standard inputs are causal.

There are a number of standard inputs that are considered simple enough and universal enough that they are considered when designing a system. These inputs are known as a unit step, a ramp, and a parabolic input.

Unit Step
A unit step function is defined piecewise as such:

[Unit Step Function]

${\displaystyle u(t)=\left\{{\begin{matrix}0,&t<0\\1,&t\geq 0\end{matrix}}\right.}$
The unit step function is a highly important function, not only in control systems engineering, but also in signal processing, systems analysis, and all branches of engineering. If the unit step function is input to a system, the output of the system is known as the step response. The step response of a system is an important tool, and we will study step responses in detail in later chapters.
Ramp
A unit ramp is defined in terms of the unit step function, as such:

[Unit Ramp Function]

${\displaystyle r(t)=tu(t)}$
It is important to note that the unit step function is simply the differential of the unit ramp function:
${\displaystyle r(t)=\int u(t)dt=tu(t)}$
This definition will come in handy when we learn about the Laplace Transform.
Parabolic
A unit parabolic input is similar to a ramp input:

[Unit Parabolic Function]

${\displaystyle p(t)={\frac {1}{2}}t^{2}u(t)}$
Notice also that the unit parabolic input is equal to the integral of the ramp function:
${\displaystyle p(t)=\int r(t)dt=\int tu(t)dt={\frac {1}{2}}t^{2}u(t)={\frac {1}{2}}tr(t)}$
Again, this result will become important when we learn about the Laplace Transform.

Also, sinusoidal and exponential functions are considered basic, but they are too difficult to use in initial analysis of a system.

Note:
To be more precise, we should have taken the limit as t approaches infinity. However, as a shorthand notation, we will typically say "t equals infinity", and assume the reader understands the shortcut that is being used.

When a unit-step function is input to a system, the steady-state value of that system is the output value at time ${\displaystyle t=\infty }$ . Since it is impractical (if not completely impossible) to wait till infinity to observe the system, approximations and mathematical calculations are used to determine the steady-state value of the system. Most system responses are asymptotic, that is that the response approaches a particular value. Systems that are asymptotic are typically obvious from viewing the graph of that response.

Step Response

The step response of a system is most frequently used to analyze systems, and there is a large amount of terminology involved with step responses. When exposed to the step input, the system will initially have an undesirable output period known as the transient response. The transient response occurs because a system is approaching its final output value. The steady-state response of the system is the response after the transient response has ended.

The amount of time it takes for the system output to reach the desired value (before the transient response has ended, typically) is known as the rise time. The amount of time it takes for the transient response to end and the steady-state response to begin is known as the settling time.

It is common for a systems engineer to try and improve the step response of a system. In general, it is desired for the transient response to be reduced, the rise and settling times to be shorter, and the steady-state to approach a particular desired "reference" output.

Target Value

The target output value is the value that our system attempts to obtain for a given input. This is not the same as the steady-state value, which is the actual value that the system does obtain. The target value is frequently referred to as the reference value, or the "reference function" of the system. In essence, this is the value that we want the system to produce. When we input a "5" into an elevator, we want the output (the final position of the elevator) to be the fifth floor. Pressing the "5" button is the reference input, and is the expected value that we want to obtain. If we press the "5" button, and the elevator goes to the third floor, then our elevator is poorly designed.

Rise Time

Rise time is the amount of time that it takes for the system response to reach the target value from an initial state of zero. Many texts on the subject define the rise time as being the time it takes to rise between the initial position and 80% of the target value. This is because some systems never rise to 100% of the expected, target value, and therefore they would have an infinite rise-time. This book will specify which convention to use for each individual problem. Rise time is typically denoted tr, or trise.

Percent Overshoot

Underdamped systems frequently overshoot their target value initially. This initial surge is known as the "overshoot value". The ratio of the amount of overshoot to the target steady-state value of the system is known as the percent overshoot. Percent overshoot represents an overcompensation of the system, and can output dangerously large output signals that can damage a system. Percent overshoot is typically denoted with the term PO.

Example: Refrigerator

Consider an ordinary household refrigerator. The refrigerator has cycles where it is on and when it is off. When the refrigerator is on, the coolant pump is running, and the temperature inside the refrigerator decreases. The temperature decreases to a much lower level than is required, and then the pump turns off.

When the pump is off, the temperature slowly increases again as heat is absorbed into the refrigerator. When the temperature gets high enough, the pump turns back on. Because the pump cools down the refrigerator more than it needs to initially, we can say that it "overshoots" the target value by a certain specified amount.

Example: Refrigerator

Another example concerning a refrigerator concerns the electrical demand of the heat pump when it first turns on. The pump is an inductive mechanical motor, and when the motor first activates, a special counter-acting force known as "back EMF" resists the motion of the motor, and causes the pump to draw more electricity until the motor reaches its final speed. During the startup time for the pump, lights on the same electrical circuit as the refrigerator may dim slightly, as electricity is drawn away from the lamps, and into the pump. This initial draw of electricity is a good example of overshoot.

Usually, the letter e or E will be used to denote error values.

Sometimes a system might never achieve the desired steady-state value, but instead will settle on an output value that is not desired. The difference between the steady-state output value to the reference input value at steady state is called the steady-state error of the system. We will use the variable ess to denote the steady-state error of the system.

Settling Time

After the initial rise time of the system, some systems will oscillate and vibrate for an amount of time before the system output settles on the final value. The amount of time it takes to reach steady state after the initial rise time is known as the settling time. Notice that damped oscillating systems may never settle completely, so we will define settling time as being the amount of time for the system to reach, and stay in, a certain acceptable range. The acceptable range for settling time is typically determined on a per-problem basis, although common values are 20%, 10%, or 5% of the target value. The settling time will be denoted as ts.

System Order

The order of the system is defined by the number of independent energy storage elements in the system, and intuitively by the highest order of the linear differential equation that describes the system. In a transfer function representation, the order is the highest exponent in the transfer function. In a proper system, the system order is defined as the degree of the denominator polynomial. In a state-space equation, the system order is the number of state-variables used in the system. The order of a system will frequently be denoted with an n or N, although these variables are also used for other purposes. This book will make clear distinction on the use of these variables.

Proper Systems

A proper system is a system where the degree of the denominator is larger than or equal to the degree of the numerator polynomial. A strictly proper system is a system where the degree of the denominator polynomial is larger than (but never equal to) the degree of the numerator polynomial. A biproper system is a system where the degree of the denominator polynomial equals the degree of the numerator polynomial.

It is important to note that only proper systems can be physically realized. In other words, a system that is not proper cannot be built. It makes no sense to spend a lot of time designing and analyzing imaginary systems.

Example: System Order

Find the order of this system:

${\displaystyle G(s)={\frac {1+s}{1+s+s^{2}}}}$

The highest exponent in the denominator is s2, so the system is order 2. Also, since the denominator is a higher degree than the numerator, this system is strictly proper.

In the above example, G(s) is a second-order transfer function because in the denominator one of the s variables has an exponent of 2. Second-order functions are the easiest to work with.

System Type

Let's say that we have a process transfer function (or combination of functions, such as a controller feeding in to a process), all in the forward branch of a unity feedback loop. Say that the overall forward branch transfer function is in the following generalized form (known as pole-zero form):

[Pole-Zero Form]

${\displaystyle G(s)={\frac {K\prod _{i}(s-s_{i})}{s^{M}\prod _{j}(s-s_{j})}}}$
Poles at the origin are called integrators, because they have the effect of performing integration on the input signal.

we call the parameter M the system type. Note that increased system type number correspond to larger numbers of poles at s = 0. More poles at the origin generally have a beneficial effect on the system, but they increase the order of the system, and make it increasingly difficult to implement physically. System type will generally be denoted with a letter like N, M, or m. Because these variables are typically reused for other purposes, this book will make clear distinction when they are employed.

Now, we will define a few terms that are commonly used when discussing system type. These new terms are Position Error, Velocity Error, and Acceleration Error. These names are throwbacks to physics terms where acceleration is the derivative of velocity, and velocity is the derivative of position. Note that none of these terms are meant to deal with movement, however.

Position Error
The position error, denoted by the position error constant ${\displaystyle K_{p}}$ . This is the amount of steady-state error of the system when stimulated by a unit step input. We define the position error constant as follows:

[Position Error Constant]

${\displaystyle K_{p}=\lim _{s\to 0}G(s)}$
Where G(s) is the transfer function of our system.
Velocity Error
The velocity error is the amount of steady-state error when the system is stimulated with a ramp input. We define the velocity error constant as such:

[Velocity Error Constant]

${\displaystyle K_{v}=\lim _{s\to 0}sG(s)}$
Acceleration Error
The acceleration error is the amount of steady-state error when the system is stimulated with a parabolic input. We define the acceleration error constant to be:

[Acceleration Error Constant]

${\displaystyle K_{a}=\lim _{s\to 0}s^{2}G(s)}$

Now, this table will show briefly the relationship between the system type, the kind of input (step, ramp, parabolic), and the steady-state error of the system:

Unit System Input
Type, M Au(t) Ar(t) Ap(t)
0 ${\displaystyle e_{ss}={\frac {A}{1+K_{p}}}}$  ${\displaystyle e_{ss}=\infty }$  ${\displaystyle e_{ss}=\infty }$
1 ${\displaystyle e_{ss}=0}$  ${\displaystyle e_{ss}={\frac {A}{K_{v}}}}$  ${\displaystyle e_{ss}=\infty }$
2 ${\displaystyle e_{ss}=0}$  ${\displaystyle e_{ss}=0}$  ${\displaystyle e_{ss}={\frac {A}{K_{a}}}}$
> 2 ${\displaystyle e_{ss}=0}$  ${\displaystyle e_{ss}=0}$  ${\displaystyle e_{ss}=0}$

Z-Domain Type

Likewise, we can show that the system order can be found from the following generalized transfer function in the Z domain:

${\displaystyle G(z)={\frac {K\prod _{i}(z-z_{i})}{(z-1)^{M}\prod _{j}(z-z_{j})}}}$

Where the constant M is the type of the digital system. Now, we will show how to find the various error constants in the Z-Domain:

[Z-Domain Error Constants]

Error Constant Equation
Kp ${\displaystyle K_{p}=\lim _{z\to 1}G(z)}$
Kv ${\displaystyle K_{v}=\lim _{z\to 1}(z-1)G(z)}$
Ka ${\displaystyle K_{a}=\lim _{z\to 1}(z-1)^{2}G(z)}$

Visually

Here is an image of the various system metrics, acting on a system in response to a step input:

The target value is the value of the input step response. The rise time is the time at which the waveform first reaches the target value. The overshoot is the amount by which the waveform exceeds the target value. The settling time is the time it takes for the system to settle into a particular bounded region. This bounded region is denoted with two short dotted lines above and below the target value.