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Handling delays in control systems is difficult and is of long-standing interest. It is well known that, given a finite-dimensional linear time-invariant (FDLTI) plant and controller forming a strictly proper stable feedback connection, closed-loop stability will be maintained under a small delay in the feedback loop, although most closed loop systems become unstable for large delays. One previously unsolved fundamental problem in this context is whether, for a given FDLTI plant, an arbitrarily large delay margin can be achieved using LTI control. Here, we adopt a frequency domain approach and demonstrate that, for a strictly proper real rational plant, there is a uniform upper bound on the delay that can be tolerated when using an LTI controller, if and only if the plant has at least one closed right half plane pole not at the origin. We also give several explicit upper bounds on the achievable delay margin, and, in some special cases, demonstrate that these bounds are tight.
Date of Publication: July 2007