Rijksuniversiteit Groningen University of Groningen

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Lectures and Seminars

Jan C. Willems


Prof.dr.ir. J.C.Willems

Mailing address:

Department of Mathematics and Computing Science
University of Groningen
P.O. Box 800
9700 AV Groningen
(The Netherlands)

Visiting address:

IWI - building, room 323
Blauwborgje 3
9747 AC  Groningen.

Visiting Information

Phone : +31 (0)50 3633984
Fax : +31 (0)50 3633800
Phone : +31 (0)50 3633976 (secretary)

Email : willems@math.rug.nl


JAN WILLEMS was born in Bruges, Belgium in 1939. He studied engineering at the University of Ghent, the University of Rhode Island, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his Ph.D. in 1968. He was an assistant professor in electrical engineering at MIT until 1973, when he was appointed to the position of Professor of Systems and Control at the Mathematics Department of the University of Groningen. Since November 2001 he has become Guest Professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium.


Research The principal aim of our research is the development of a conceptual mathematical framework for the description of dynamical systems. The emphasis is on modelling physical engineering systems, and on synthesis questions related to control.

The central concept which we take as our starting point is that of a dynamical system. This is defined as a triple tex2html_wrap_inline68tex2html_wrap_inline70 with tex2html_wrap_inline72 the time-axis, W the signal space, and tex2html_wrap_inline76 a subset of tex2html_wrap_inline78 , called the behavior of tex2html_wrap_inline68 . The behavior consists of those trajectories tex2html_wrap_inline82 which satisfy the laws imposed by tex2html_wrap_inline68 . However, in first principles modelling one invariably needs to introduce auxiliary variables in order to express the laws of a system. This feature is incorporated by distinguishing ab initio between manifest variables (the variables which the model aims at) and latent variable (the auxiliary variables). The systems which we consider interact with their environment. However, in our set-up neither the input/output nor state space structure are taken as the starting point. They enter as very useful, but special, types of system representations.

Problems which have been or are being considered in this framework include:

Our future research aims at establishing the behavorial approach as the generic starting point for modelling and synthesis of dynamical systems. The following projects are presently being pursued: For more details about research in the field of Systems and Control at our department, you can go to the page of the Systems and Control Group. The systems and control groups in the Netherlands are member of the Dutch Institute of Systems and Control DISC.

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