ECE 486 (Control Systems) - Spring 2020 - Syllabus

Course description

This is a first course in feedback control of dynamic systems. A design oriented approach is stressed. Computer based analysis, combined with an accompanying laboratory, provide a realistic setting for mastering several important design methodologies. Concurrent development of basic concepts in lecture and homework provides a foundation for continued study of advanced topics and newly emerging methods. Students come from a wide range of disciplines since control is an interdisciplinary topic.

Course objective

The official course goals can be found at the ECE department's course profile.

Course outline

  • Dynamic models and dynamic response (4 weeks)

    • Modeling examples, differential equations, impulse response, transfer functions, poles and zeros, state space models, feedback.

  • Root locus techniques (3 weeks)

    • Evans’ root locus method, dynamic compensation.

  • Frequency response techniques (5 weeks)

    • Bode plots, Nyquist stability criterion.

  • State feedback design (2 weeks)

    • State space models, similarity transformations, controllability, linear pole placement, estimator design.



  • Instructor: Roy Dong

    • email: roydong at illinois dot edu

    • office: 142 CSL

    • office hours: Thursdays 1-2pm in 142 CSL

  • Homework TA: Yu Mao

    • email: yumao4 at illinois dot edu

    • office hours: Monday 3-4pm in ECEB 4036, Wednesday 3-4pm in ECEB 3036

  • Homework TA: Yichuan Li

    • email: yli129 at illinois dot edu


  • Lab manager: Dan Block

    • email: d-block at illinois dot edu

    • office: 3005 ECEB

For the list of lab TAs and more information about the lab, please see the lab website.


ECE 210 (Analog Signal Processing) is a mandatory prerequisite for this course. The concepts covered in ECE 486 build a great deal on the material in ECE 210.

In particular, the lectures will immediately presume familiarity with:

  • frequency responses

  • convolution

  • impulse responses

  • sampling

  • system stability

  • Laplace transforms

  • transfer function

  • methods for solving differential equations

  • filter design

If you do not satisfy these prerequisites, send me an email outlining your background with the material listed above, as well as why you wish to take ECE 486. It may be possible for you to maintain enrollment in the course, but I cannot guarantee anything.


Your course grade will be the weighted average of these five components:

weekly homeworks 15%
lab 30%
midterm exam 1 15%
midterm exam 2 15%
final exam 25%


Homeworks are due on Gradescope at 9:29am of the due date, a minute before the beginning of class. (Note the time that homeworks are due!) Any variations of this due date will be announced on Piazza as well as written on the homework assignment itself.

No late homeworks will be accepted. No exceptions, extensions, or other variations will be given; if something happens that greatly interferes with your ability to complete assignments this semester, grading will be determined by the university's policy on such extenuating circumstances.

You may drop your lowest homework grade. This dropped homework is meant to account for any personal events or extenuating circumstances that may arise.

Allot yourself time to upload a PDF of your homework to the website. Failure to upload a homework assignment due to technical issues will also be absorbed by the one-dropped-homework policy.

The entry code for the course's Gradescope is: 9E288Y

Students are encouraged to typeset their homeworks. For those that are considering graduate school, LaTeX proficiency is an absolute requirement for many, many fields of research, and the homeworks for this course are a good place to begin building these skills. It will also make uploading PDFs of your homework to Gradescope much easier.

If you choose to hand-write homeworks instead, you may scan them. I recommend the Adobe Scan app ( to do so. Homeworks are required to be legible. This is a comment on both handwriting and scan quality. The definition of legibility is at our discretion, which is another reason typesetting your homework is recommended. Note that camera photos of your homework are very, very unlikely to be legible and are very difficult to grade. If you do not have the requisite technology to scan your homework legibly, please come by the instructor's (Prof. Dong) office hours so we can discuss potential solutions.

Quick guides for setting up LaTeX are available here:


Labs will begin meeting Week 2 (starting Jan. 28st) of the semester.

You must obtain the lab manual from the ECE Store (1031 ECEB) prior to the first meeting of the lab.

Although you will have 24-hour access to the labs, lab attendance is expected and graded.

For further details, see the lab page on the course website.


The midterm exams will occur during the course's regular time slot. The final exam will occur during the time slot determined by the Registrar.

A more detailed, up-to-date breakdown of the course timing, including exam dates, can be found at the lectures tab on the course website:

During the first midterm, you will be allowed one reference sheet. During the second midterm, you will be allowed two reference sheets.

Reference sheets must be on an 8.5’’-by-11’’ sheet of paper. (This paper size is typically called ‘Letter’ paper.) Both sides may be used, and these reference sheets can be either hand-written or typed.

Course resources

The central hub for this course will be the course website:

You will be able to download the syllabus, lecture notes, homeworks, and lab materials from the webpage. This webpage will be maintained and is the best resource for up-to-date information about the course. In the unlikely event of conflicting information, the information on the webpage will take precedence.

This course also has a Piazza:

Official announcements will be done through Piazza. You will be held responsible for content in announcements made on Piazza. MAKE SURE you are: a) enrolled in the course on Piazza, and b) have some method to stay up-to-date with course announcements.

To reiterate: you will be held responsible for content in announcements on Piazza.

tl;dr: you will be held responsible for content in announcements on Piazza.

Finally, this course will be collecting homeworks via Gradescope:

The entry code for the course's Gradescope is: 9E288Y

For more details about homework policies, see the Homework section of the syllabus.


The main textbook for the course will be:

  • Franklin, Powell, and Emami-Naeini, Feedback Control of Dynamic Systems, Prentice Hall.

    • As of Spring 2019, the most up-to-date edition of this book is the 8th edition. Previous editions should, for the most part, be fine, as the material will not be substantially different.

Another optional reference for the course's material is:

As mentioned previously, you must obtain the lab manual from the ECE Store (1031 ECEB) prior to the first meeting of the lab.

Course expectations

I expect all students to contribute to a supportive learning environment and a cooperative community. We are all here to learn, and, I'd like to emphasize this: help each other learn. Students are expected to be civil and respectful.

Throughout the course, you may freely ask questions at any time. There are no stupid questions, and everyone should feel comfortable asking anything during the class. However, I may request that discussions related to such questions be shifted to either office hours or Piazza if there is not enough in-class time to fully resolve any questions.

Academic integrity

All students are subject to the university's academic integrity policies. A quick reference guide, as well as links to the official student code, can be found at:

I do not expect academic integrity will be an issue, but it is worth discussing briefly. If you find that you are struggling with the material in the course, do not hesitate at all to reach out to me. Send me an email, drop by my office hours, see me after class, post on Piazza, slip a note under my office door, whatever. One should not feel like they must resort to cheating in my class.