Control engineering is the discipline that applies control theory to design systems with predictable behaviors. The practice uses sensors to measure the output performance of the device being controlled and those measurements can be used to give feedback to the input actuators that can make corrections toward desired performance. There are two major divisions in control theory, namely, classical and modern, which have direct implications over the control engineering applications.
Classical Control Theory The scope of classical control theory is limited to single-input and single-output (SISO) system design. The system analysis is carried out in time domain using differential equations, in complex-s domain with Laplace transform or in frequency domain by transforming from the complex-s domain. All systems are assumed to be second order and single variable, and higher-order system responses and multivariable effects are ignored.
A controller designed using classical theory usually requires on-site tuning due to design approximations. Modern Control Theory Modern control theory is carried out strictly in the complex-s or the frequency domain, and can deal with multi-input and multi-output (MIMO) systems. This overcomes the limitations of classical control theory in more sophisticated design problems, such as fighter aircraft control. In modern design, a system is represented as a set of first order differential equations defined using state variables.
Nonlinear, multivariable, adaptive and robust control theories come under this division. MATLAB: MATLAB stands for “Matrix Laboratory” and is a numerical computing environment and fourth-generation programming language. Developed by Math Works, MATLAB allows matrix manipulations, plotting of functions and data, implementation of algorithms, creation of user interfaces, and interfacing with programs written in other languages, including C, C++, and Fortran.