Cybernetics is the study of automatic control systems, information processing and communication in dynamic systems such as machines, chemical processes, sociological, and biological systems. Cybernetics is a subject area that consists of everything concerning the observation and control of a system.
Engineering cybernetics is limited to the engineering applications. There are several disciplines in this subject area, the most important are:
- Mathematical modeling. The behavior of any dynamic system can be described mathematically. As a rule this is not the main intention in itself, the purpose is rather to use the description as a basis for other undertakings on the system such as the remaining items listed below.
- Measurement and estimation theory. It is not always possible to measure all the values required in a dynamic process. Nonetheless, in many cases there exists the possibility of evaluating their behaviors. This is called state estimation. In these cases, the system’s mathematical model is of utmost importance in the analysis. If the model is incomplete, estimation may also be applied to make guesses concerning the blank areas. Depending on the nature of the problem, this is called parameter- or structure estimation
- Instrumentation concerns the principles used for the measurement of process variables, transmission of signals and manipulation of the process in addition to methods and tools for implementing solutions in the form of equipments and softwares suited to the task. What kind of sensors are appropriate to use and what are the conditions that should be required of the actuators? What are the possibilities that exists to be able to design an intelligent sensor system hereby including systems for error detection and error handling.
- Control engineering comprises of theories and methods for machine and process control. What kind of strategy should be chosen to fulfill any given criteria for control and stability?
- Simulation is about how to numerically solve a system’s dynamic equations (differential equations), as well as visualizing and animating a system’s response. Applications include analysis and verification of systems prior to setting them in production and simulators for training purposes.
- Computer engineering. Designin of real-time measurement- and control systems, including selection of controller types, user interfaces, protocols, networking and client-server solutions.
Engineering cybernetics, briefly, is the discipline that brings together physics and chemistry on one hand and computer technology on the other. The control engineer must have the ability to understand the physical processes that occur, why things happen and how they are interconnected. When the system is thoroughly analyzed, the control algorithm for the process can then be designed, tested and implemented.