The task of mathematical modelling is an important step in the analysis and design of control systems. In this chapter, we will develop mathematical models for the mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and thermal systems which are used commonly in everyday life. The mathematical models of systems are obtained by applying the fundamental physical laws governing the nature of the components making these systems. For example, Newton's laws are used in the mathematical modelling of mechanical systems. Similarly, Kirchhoff's laws are used in the modelling and analysis of electrical systems.

Our mathematical treatment will be limited to linear, time-invariant ordinary differential equations whose coefficients do not change in time. In real life many systems are nonlinear, but they can be linearized around certain operating ranges about their equilibrium conditions. Real systems are usually quite complex and exact analysis is often impossible. We shall make approximations and reduce the system components to idealized versions whose behaviours are similar to the real components.

In this chapter we shall look only at the passive components. These components are of two types: those storing energy (e.g. the capacitor in an electrical system), and those dissipating energy (e.g. the resistor in an electrical system).

The mathematical model of a system is one or more differential equations describing the dynamic behaviour of the system. The Laplace transformation is applied to ...

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