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Routh-Hurwtz Criterion & Root-Locus Criteria

Stability of Feedback Control Systems

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Let si be the poles of rational G.
Then, G is:

stable if Re(si)<0 for all i

marginally stable if


Re(si)<=0 for all i, and


simple root for Re(si)=0

unstable if it is neither stable

nor marginally stable

Routh-Hurwitz criterion
This is for LTI systems with a polynomial
denominator (without sin, cos, exponential etc.)
It determines if all the roots of a polynomial lie in
the open LHP (left half-plane), or equivalently, have
negative real parts.

It also determines the number of roots of a

polynomial in the open RHP (right half-plane).
It does NOT explicitly compute the roots.

Step 1
Write the polynomial as the
characteristic equation

Step 2
Write the coefficients in 2
1st row starts with an
2nd row start with an-1
Other coefficients
alternate between rows
Both rows should be the
same length
Continue until no
coefficients are left
Add zero as last
coefficient if necessary

Step 3
Complete the 3rd row
Call the new entries b1, , bk

The 3rd row will be the same length as the 1st two

The denominator is the 1st entry from the previous row

The numerator is the determinant of the entries from the
previous 2 rows:

The first column

The next column following the coefficient
If a coefficient doesnt exist, substitute 0

Step 4

Treat each following row in the same way as the 3rd


There should be n+1 rows total, including the first row.

Now examine the 1st column

Note: Any row can be multiplied by any positive

constant without changing the result

Theorems of the Routh Test


The necessary and sufficient condition for all the roots

of the characteristic equation to have negative real
parts (stable system) is that all the elements of the first
column of the Routh array (a0, a1, b1, c1, etc.) be
positive and nonzero.


If some of the elements in the first column are

negative, the number of roots with a positive real part
(in the right half plane) is equal to the number of sign
changes in the first column.


If one pair of roots is on the imaginary axis,

equidistant from the origin, and all other roots are in
the left half plane, all the elements of the nth row will
vanish and none of the elements of the preceding row
will vanish. The location of the pair of imaginary roots
can be found by solving the equation Cs2 + D = 0,
where the coefficients C and D are the elements of the
array in the (n-1)th row as read from left to right,

Example 2

Consider the quadratic polynomial function:

where all the ai are positive. The array of coefficients becomes

where the coefficient a1 is the result of multiplying a1 by a2 and

subtracting a0(0) then dividing the result by a2. In the case of a
second order polynomial, we see that Rouths stability criterion
reduces to the condition that all ai be positive.

Example 3

Consider the generic cubic polynomial

where all the ai are positive. The Routh array is

so the condition that all roots have negative real parts


Root-Locus Method

A root locus plot is a figure that shows how the roots

of the closed-loop characteristic equation vary as the
gain of the feedback controller is varied from zero to
infinity. The abscissa is the real part of the closedloop roots; the ordinate is the imaginary part. Since
we are plotting closed-loop roots, the time constants
and damping coefficients that we will pick off these
root locus plots are all closed-loop time constants and
closed-loop damping coefficients.

Graphical procedure for finding the roots of 1 + G = 0,

as one of the parameters of G varies continuously.

Consider the closed loop transfer function

How do the poles of the closed-loop system change

as a function of the gain K?

The closed-loop transfer function is:

The characteristic equation is:

The closed loop poles are

Example of Root-Locus Plots

Sample Problem
Let us start with the simplest of all processes, a firstorder lag. We will choose a proportional controller.
The system and controller transfer functions are

The closed-loop characteristic equation is

Solving for the closed-loop root gives

For a 1st order system, the closed-loop root is always real, so the
system can never be underdamped or oscillatory. The closedloop damping coefficient of this system is always greater than
one. The larger the value of controller gain, the smaller the
closed-loop time constant because the root moves farther away
from the origin (the time constant being the reciprocal of the
distance from the root to the origin).

The 1st order system can never be closed-loop unstable because

the root always lies in the LHP. No real system is only 1st order.
There are always small lags in the process, in the control valve
or in the instrumentation, that make all real systems of higher
order than 1st.