Minimal order controllers for output regulation of nonlinear systems

Vivek Natarajan*, George Weiss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper is about the nonlinear local error feedback regulator problem. The plant is a nonlinear finite-dimensional system with a single control input and a single output and it is locally exponentially stable around the origin. The plant is driven, via a separate disturbance input, by a Lyapunov stable exosystem whose states are nonwandering. The reference signal that the plant output must track is a nonlinear function of the exosystem state. The local error feedback regulator problem is to design a dynamic feedback controller, with the tracking error as its input, such that (i) the closed-loop system of the plant and the controller is locally exponentially stable, and (ii) the tracking error tends to zero for all sufficiently small initial conditions of the plant, the controller and the exosystem. Under the assumption that the above regulator problem is solvable, we propose a nonlinear controller whose order is relatively small — typically equal to the order of the exosystem, and which solves the regulator problem. The emphasis is on the low order of the controller. In contrast, previous results on the regulator problem have typically proposed controllers of a much larger order. The stability assumption on the plant (which can be relaxed to some extent) is crucial for making it possible to design a low order controller. We will show, under certain assumptions, that our proposed controller is of minimal order. Three examples are presented — the first illustrates our controller design procedure using an exosystem whose trajectories are periodic even though the state operator of the linearized exosystem contains a nontrivial Jordan block. The second example is more involved, and shows that sometimes a nontrivial immersion of the exosystem is needed in the design. The third example, based on output voltage regulation for a boost power converter, shows how the regulator equations may reduce to a first order PDE with no given boundary conditions, but which nevertheless has a locally unique solution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100028
Number of pages1
JournalIFAC Journal of Systems and Control
StatePublished - 30 Mar 2019


  • Boost converter
  • Center manifold
  • Error feedback regulator problem
  • Internal model
  • Lyapunov stable nonlinear exosystem
  • Minimal order controller
  • Nontrivial Jordan block
  • Nonwandering points
  • Quasilinear PDE
  • Regulator equations


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