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A mathematical model of the instrument-monitoring behavior of the human operator is developed. The model is based on the assumption that the operator behaves as an optimal controller and information processor, subject to his inherent physical limitations. The resulting model depends explicitly on the control task and the control actions. Provision is made for the ability to obtain information from the peripheral visual field. There are no restrictions on signal coupling. The specific characteristics of the operator's visual sampling behavior are predicted by solving a nonlinear, deterministic optimization problem. A two-axis compensatory tracking example is investigated, and the results exhibit the general characteristics expected of a human operator performing a similar task.