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This paper approaches nonlinear control problems through the use of (discrete-time) piecewise linear systems. These are systems whose next-state and output maps are both described by PL maps, i.e., by maps which are affine on each of the components of a finite polyhedral partition. Various results on state and output feedback, observers, and inverses, standard for linear systems, are proved for PL systems. Many of these results are then used in the study of more general (both discrete- and continuous-time) systems, using suitable approximations.