The Control of Discrete Event Systems

Peter Jeffrey Ramadge, W. Murray Wonham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2185 Scopus citations


A Discrete Event System (DBS) is a dynamic system that evolves in accordance with the abrupt occurrence, at possibly unknown irregular intervals, of physical events. Such systems arise in a variety of contexts ranging from computer operating systems to the control of complex multimode processes. We survey a control theory for the logical aspects of such DESs. This theory was initiated by Ramadge and Wonham, and has subsequently been extended by the authors and other researchers to encompass control theoretic ideas such as controllability, observability, aggregation, and modular, decentralized, and hierarchical control. We concentrate on the qualitative aspects of control but also consider computation and the related issue of computational complexity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-98
Number of pages18
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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