IEEE Field Award in Control
Elena, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, and family -- good evening to you all, and thank you so much for attending this event.
It is an honour to have been chosen for the IEEE Field Award in Control. I am deeply humbled to be placed on the list of recipients, many of whom were and still are my heroes.
The Field Award is traditionally given at the CDC, not the ACC. I requested the change this year so that my family can attend. My daughter is in University and writes exams in December, and so would not be able to attend this ceremony otherwise. I thank the Control Systems Society executives and other IEEE officials for allowing this change. I only regret that I won't be receiving the award in Osaka in the company of my many Japanese friends.
I was asked to limit my speech to 5 minutes, and so I shall.
I am proud to be the third Canadian to receive the Field Award. The first was George Zames and the second was Murray Wonham. It's a small world, control theory in Canada, in that, for example, the three of us are closely linked. Murray was my PhD advisor and George was my PhD external examiner, and I was, of course, my PhD thesis writer. Thus we can say that, in one way or another, all the Canadian Field Award recipients worked on my thesis.
I was born in Toronto, I went to U of T for all three degrees, and I have been in the Systems Control Group in the ECE Department at U of T since 1984. I consider myself very fortunate, being of this pedigree. For example, in our Engineering Science program I had the good fortune to teach amazing undergraduates like Raff D'Andrea and Geir Dullerud. There is nothing more fun than teaching the subject you love to bright, interested students.
I now wish to acknowledge a number of individuals who have enriched my professional life.
First, the late George Zames. A control theorist does good work, or mediocre work, or poor work, partly depending on what the problems are. At the beginning of my career, finding a good problem was easy for me because of George. For the first two years as an assistant professor, I had an office at McGill that was across the hall from George's office. We had many chats.
Secondly, I am indebted to the late Jan Willems, for his lifelong example of what it means to be a scholar. He was a singular role model.
I am indebted to Murray Wonham for taking me on as a PhD student, for guiding my thesis, and for showing me by example the principles of being a good blackboard lecturer. Since that time I have loved being a teacher.
Thanks to Ian Postlethwaite, my first friend in control theory, who coauthored with Skogestad the best textbook on control system design, and who, last December, flew all the way from England to Los Angeles just to hear my Bode Lecture.
Thanks to John Doyle for all his invitations: including to participate in a workshop at Honeywell, to teach his graduate course at Caltech, and to work on the paper co-authored with John, Keith Glover, and Pramod Khargonekar. What a ride that was, working with John!
Thanks again to Yutaka Yamamoto for selecting me last year for the Bode Lecture Prize. Yutaka and I have shared a close kinship in research. In many ways we think and write in the same style.
Thanks to Tongwen Chen, my brilliant first PhD student. Together we wrote a book and 18 conference and journal papers. Working with Tongwen has been one of the joys of my career.
Thanks to my dear friends Steve Morse and Pramod Khargonekar for producing and submitting the nomination package for the award I am receiving today. It all began two years ago when Steve said, Bruce, I think your work deserves more recognition.
And last and most deserving of my thanks is Mathukumalli Vidyasagar. Sagar is only nine days older than I but he was my PhD advisor for a year and has been, for these 43 years that I've known him, such a wise mentor, an infinitely deep reservoir of information, and a devoted friend.
Thank you all very much for your attention.
Bruce A. Francis
June 30, 2015