UCSD ECE 171A: Linear Control System Theory (Fall 2023)

Time and Location

  • Lectures: Monday and Wednesday, 5:00 pm - 6:20 pm, in PCYNH 121

  • Discussion: Monday, 3:00 pm - 3:50 pm, in PCYNH 121

  • Office Hours: Wednesday, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm, on Zoom

  • Final Review: Monday, December 11, time and place TBD

  • Final Exam: Thursday, December 14, 2023, 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm, in TBD


Course Description

This is an undergraduate course on classical control theory. The course focuses on single-input single-output linear time-invariant control systems emphasizing frequency-domain methods. The topics include modeling of feedback control systems, transient and steady-state behavior, Laplace transform, stability, root locus, frequency response, Bode plots, Nyquist plots, Nichols plots, PID control, and loop shaping.

In addition to attending in-person lectures, the students are expected to sign up on Piazza and GradeScope:EJEV52. Discussion and important announcements will happen on Piazza. The homework should be turned in and will be graded on GradeScope:EJEV52.


  • Calculus: derivatives, integration, exponential function, Taylor series

  • Introductory physics: Newton's law, Ohm's law, Kirchhoff's voltage and current laws

  • Programming experience: Matlab, Python, or similar language

  • Optional: ordinary differential equations, linear algebra

These prerequisites may be fulfilled by ECE 45: Circuits and Systems or MAE 40: Linear Circuits. It is expected that the students have access to Matlab, which will be used for some of the homework problems.


The class assignments consist of several homework sets, a midterm exam, a project, and a final exam. Grading will be based on the following rubric.

Homework 35%
Project 10%
Midterm Exam 25%
Final Exam 30%

The due date of each homework will be clearly stated when the assignment is released. Late submissions and deadline extensions will not be possible because the course schedule is tight.


Primary Textbook: The main reference for the course will be:

Additional References: There are many excellent books on control systems theory. While none of these will be required to follow the course, this list may be useful if you want to consult additional references:

Online References: There are also many excellent online resources for control systems theory. Here is a recommended YouTube playlist:

Academic Integrity

Integrity of scholarship is essential for an academic community. To protect the validity of intellectual work both faculty and students must honor this principle. For students, this means that all academic work will be done by the individual to whom it is assigned, without unauthorized aid of any kind. It is dishonest to cheat on exams, copy other people's work, or fake experimental results. Cheating, plagiarism and any other form of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. An important element of academic integrity is also fully and correctly acknowledging any materials taken from the work of others. Never claim work or ideas to be yours if they are not, and never aid others in cheating, e.g., by offering them your solutions. Do not upload solutions or assignments online, even after you have finished the course. You are encouraged to discuss the assignments with other students but please note that all assignments in this course are individual and the work you turn in should be entirely your own! Use of other students’ course work, in part or in total, to develop, complete or correct course work is unauthorized. Each student is responsible for knowing and abiding by UCSD's Code of Academic Integrity. Instances of academic dishonesty will be penalized by grade reduction at the instructor's discretion and will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct for adjudication. Committing acts that violate Student Conduct policies are cause for suspension or dismissal from UCSD.

IDEA Engineering Student Center

Please consider participating in the programs and events organized by the IDEA Engineering Student Center. The IDEA center, located to the right of the lobby of Jacobs Hall, is a hub for student engagement, academic enrichment, personal and professional development, leadership, community involvement, and a respectful learning environment for all. The IDEA center's mission is to foster an inclusive and welcoming community, promote academic success, develop engineering leaders, and, most importantly, support mental health and wellness needs. These opportunities can be found on the IDEA Center Facebook page and the Center's web site.


The material in this course is developed in collaboration with Prof. Yang Zheng. Prof. Zheng teaches ECE 171A in the Spring quarter.

The course design is also inspired by the following excellent courses:

  • CDS 101/110:Introduction to Control Systems, California Institute of Technology (Instructor: Prof. Richard Murray)

  • ES 155: Systems and Control, Havard University (Instructor: Prof. Na Li)

  • ECE 171A: Linear Control System Theory, University of California San Diego (Instructor: Prof. David Sworder)