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The design and implementation of a control system consisting of a number of cooperating processes running concurrently on a group of communicating processors is a complex task. There is general agreement that the high level of complexity associated with these systems dictates a ``top-down'' design approach to both hardware and software. In this paper, a design approach that is oriented toward machinery control applications is developed for distributed control systems. Principles are identified for specifying system requirements, partitioning a system into processes, allocating processes to processors, and choosing a communication network. A design example is discussed.