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Electrical Engineering Professor Wins Richard E. Bellman Control Heritage Award

Dragoslav D. Siljak, the Benjamin and Mae Swig University Professor in the School of Engineering at Santa Clara University, has won the prestigious Richard E. Bellman Control Heritage Award for his fundamental contributions to the theory of large-scale systems, decentralized control, and parametric approach to robust stability.

The award is the highest recognition of professional achievement for U.S. control systems engineers and scientists, given for distinguished career contributions to the theory or application of automatic control. Bestowed by the American Automatic Control Council (AACC), an association of the control systems divisions of eight member societies, the award is named after the applied mathematician Richard Bellman, who pioneered the field of dynamic programming, which is essential to control system theory.

Siljak joined the SCU faculty in 1964. A prolific scholar, he has published an array of books and papers, including four monographs (Decentralized Control of Complex Systems, Large-Scale Dynamic Systems, Nonlinear Systems, and Control of Complex Systems: Structural Constraints and Uncertainty) and more than 200 papers in scholarly and scientific journals. In 1999, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers honored him with the prestigious title of Life Fellow.

His analysis of intricate mathematical models provides a glimpse into how the interdependent parts of complex systems interact in complicated and uncertain ways in order to determine optimal strategies for localized, stabilizing control. “Interest in complex systems has grown in both the living and man-made systems. Everything is becoming more complex—the electric power systems, transportation and communication networks. Everywhere you turn, you see these complex systems,” Siljak explains. He has analyzed models in areas as diverse as population biology, the arms race, large space structures, competitive equilibrium in mathematical economics, robotics, electric power systems, and gene regulation. “When we study these models, we don’t want to know just what the world is, we want to find what the world can become,” he says.

Engineering Dean Godfrey Mungal, the Sobrato Professor of Engineering, lauded his colleague’s contributions and achievements. Drago Siljak is an icon in the field of stability and control. Past winners of the award have come mostly from research 1 universities, so it is even more impressive that he has been recognized from an institution which carries a high teaching load,” Mungal notes. “In 2007, his book Large-Scale Dynamic Systems, Stability and Structure was reprinted after 30 years as a Dover Classic, again attesting to his impact in the field.”

That impact was reiterated earlier this year when Siljak’s 1991 book, Decentralized Control of Complex Systems, topped the list of sales in Amazon’s Systems and Control Systems category—even though it has been out of print for more than 10 years. A used copy fetched more than $800 in auction.

Siljak will formally accept the award on July 1 in Baltimore, MD, at a plenary session during the American Control Conference, the annual conference of the AACC, which is composed of the control systems divisions of the following eight societies: the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; the Association of Iron and Steel Engineers; the American Society of Civil Engineers; the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; the Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society; and the Society for Computer Simulation.

Comments Comments said on May 18, 2010
Congratulations Drago! The Bellman award is very well deserved. And I expect that Drago is the only Olympic medalist on the faculty too. Truly a renaissance man.
dlarson said on May 23, 2010
This is a tremendous tribute to one of the University's true luminaries. Drago's generous spirit and intellectual achievements are great gifts to our community and to the world. Bravo Drago!
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