State Space


Recall from our previous discussion on Ordinary Differential Equations that we can express differential equations in the following form:

\begin{split}\dot{\vec{x}}(t) &= \vec{f}(\vec{x}(t), \vec{u}(t), t) \\ \vec{y}(t) &= \vec{g}(\vec{x}(t), \vec{u}(t), t)\end{split}

In this form, x represents the states in the system, u represents any externally specified inputs to the system and y represents the outputs of the system (i.e., variables that may not be states, but can ultimately be computed from the values of the states and inputs).

There is a particularly interesting special case of these equations when the functions \vec{f} and \vec{g} depend linearly on \vec{x} and \vec{u} . In this case, the equations can be rewritten as:

\begin{split}\dot{\vec{x}}(t) &= A(t) \vec{x}(t) + B(t) \vec{u}(t) \\ \vec{y}(t) &= C(t) \vec{x}(t) + D(t) \vec{u}(t)\end{split}

The matrices in this problem are the so-called “ABCD” matrices. This ABCD form is useful because there are several interesting calculations that can be performed once a system is in this form. For example, using the A matrix, we can compute the natural frequencies of the system. Using various combinations of these matrices, we can determine several very important properties related to control of the underlying system (e.g., observability and controllability).

Note that this ABCD form allows these matrices to vary with time. There is a slightly more specialized form that, in addition to being linear, is also time-invariant:

\begin{split}\dot{\vec{x}}(t) &= A \vec{x}(t) + B \vec{u}(t) \\ \vec{y}(t) &= C \vec{x}(t) + D \vec{u}(t)\end{split}

This form is often called the “LTI” form. The LTI form is important because, in addition to having the same special properties as the ABCD form, the LTI form can be used as a very simple form of “model exchange”. Historically, when someone derived the behavior equations for a given system (either by hand or using some modeling tool), one way they could import those equations into other tools was to put them in the LTI form. This means that the model could be exchanged, shared or published as a series of matrices with either numbers or expressions in them. Today, technologies like Modelica and FMI provide much better options for model exchange.

LTI Models

If someone gave us a model in LTI form, how would we express that in Modelica? Here is one way we might choose to do it:

model LTI
  "Equations written in ABCD form where matrices are also time-invariant"
  parameter Integer nx=0 "Number of states";
  parameter Integer nu=0 "Number of inputs";
  parameter Integer ny=0 "Number of outputs";
  parameter Real A[nx,nx]=fill(0,nx,nx);
  parameter Real B[nx,nu]=fill(0,nx,nu);
  parameter Real C[ny,nx]=fill(0,ny,nx);
  parameter Real D[ny,nu]=fill(0,ny,nu);
  parameter Real x0[nx]=fill(0,nx) "Initial conditions";
  Real x[nx] "State vector";
  Real u[nu] "Input vector";
  Real y[ny] "Output vector";
initial equation
  x = x0 "Specify initial conditions";
  der(x) = A*x+B*u;
  y = C*x+D*u;
end LTI;

The first step in this model is to declare the parameters nx, nu and ny. These represent the number of states, inputs and outputs, respectively. Next, we define the matrices A, B, C and D. Because we are creating a model for a linear, time-invariant representation all of these matrices can be parameters. We know that A, B, C and D are arrays because their declarations followed by [ and ]. We know they are matrices because within the []s there are two dimensions given. Finally, we see declarations for x0, x, u and y. These are also arrays. But in this case, they are vectors, since they each have only a single dimension.

Another thing to note about this model is that all parameters have been given default values. For nx, nu and ny, the assumption is that the number of states, inputs and outputs is zero by default. For the matrices, we assume that they are filled with zeros by default. Similarly, for initial conditions we assume that all states start the simulation with a value of zero unless otherwise specified. We shall see shortly how these assumptions make it possible for us to write very simple models by simply overriding the values for these parameters.

Vector Equations

The rest of the model should look pretty familiar by now. One thing that is important to point out is the fact that the equations in this model are all vector equations. An equation in Modelica can involve scalars or arrays. The only requirement is that both side of the equation have the same number of dimensions and the same size for each dimension. So in the case of the LTI model, we have the following initial equation:

initial equation
  x = x0 "Specify initial conditions";

This equation is a vector equation that expresses the fact that each element in x has the corresponding value in x0 at the start of a simulation. In practice, what happens is that each element in these vectors is automatically expanded into a series of scalar equations.

Another thing that helps keep these equations readable is that Modelica has some special rules regarding Vectorization of functions. In a nutshell, these rules say that if you have a function that works with scalars, you can automatically use it with vectors as well. If you do, Modelica will automatically apply the function to each element in the vector. So, for example, the expression der(x) in the LTI model is a vector where each element in the vector represents the derivative of the respective element of x.

Finally, many of the typical algebraic operators like +, - and * have special meanings when applied to vectors and matrices. These definitions are designed so that they correspond with conventional mathematical notation. So in the LTI model, the expression A*x corresponds to a matrix-vector product.

LTI Examples

With all this in mind, let’s revisit several of our previous examples to see how they can be represented in LTI form using our LTI model. Note that we will again use inheritance (via the extends keyword) to reuse the code in the LTI model.

Let’s start with the Simple First Order System we presented earlier. Using the LTI model, we can write this model as:

model FirstOrder "Represent der(x) = 1-x"
  extends LTI(nx=1,nu=1,A=[-1], B=[1]);
  u = {1};
end FirstOrder;

When we extend from LTI, we only need to specify the parameter values that are different from the default values. In this case, we specify that there is one state and one input. Then we specify A and B as 1x1 matrices. Finally, since we have an input, we need to provide an equation for it. The input can, in general, be time-varying so we don’t represent it as a parameter, but rather with an equation. Note that in the equation:

u = {1};

the expression {1} is a vector literal. This means that we are building a vector as a list of its components. In this case, the vector has only one component, 1. But we can build longer vectors using a comma separated list of expressions, e.g.,

v = {1, 2, 3*4, 5*sin(time)};

It is worth noting that, in addition to setting parameter values, we also can include equations in the extends statement. So, we could have avoided the equation section altogether and written the model more compactly as:

model FirstOrder_Compact "Represent der(x) = 1-x"
  extends LTI(nx=1,nu=1,A=[-1], B=[1], u={1});
end FirstOrder_Compact;

In general, including the equation section makes the code a bit more readable for others. But there are some circumstances where it is more convenient to include the equation as a modification in the extends statement.

Now let’s turn our attention to the cooling we also discussed earlier. In LTI form, we could have written the model as:

model NewtonCooling "NewtonCooling model in state space form"
  parameter Real T_inf=27.5 "Ambient temperature";
  parameter Real T0=20 "Initial temperature";
  parameter Real hA=0.7 "Convective cooling coefficient * area";
  parameter Real m=0.1 "Mass of thermal capacitance";
  parameter Real c_p=1.2 "Specific heat";
  extends LTI(nx=1,nu=1,A=[-hA/(m*c_p)],B=[hA/(m*c_p)],x0={20});
  u = {T_inf};
end NewtonCooling;

This model is very similar to the previous one. However, in this case, instead of putting numbers into our matrices, we’ve put expressions involving other parameters like m, c_p and so on. In this way, if those physical parameters are changed, the values for A and B will change accordingly.

We can take a similar approach in reformulating our previous mechanical example into LTI form:

model RotationalSMD
  "State space version of a rotational spring-mass-damper system"
  parameter Real J1=0.4;
  parameter Real J2=1.0;
  parameter Real c1=11;
  parameter Real c2=5;
  parameter Real d1=0.2;
  parameter Real d2=1.0;
  extends LTI(nx=4, nu=0, ny=0, x0={0, 1, 0, 0},
                  A=[0, 0, 1, 0;
                     0, 0, 0, 1;
                     -c1/J1, c1/J1, -d1/J1, d1/J1;
                     c1/J2, -c1/J2-c2/J2, d1/J2, -d1/J2-d2/J2]);
  u = fill(0, 0);
end RotationalSMD;

Again, we compute A from physical parameters. One thing to note about this example is the construction of A. Mathematically, the A matrix is defined as:

\begin{split}A &= \left| \begin{array}{cccc} 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 1 \\ -\frac{k_1}{J_1} & \frac{k_1}{J_1} & -\frac{d_1}{J_1} & \frac{d_1}{J_1} \\ \frac{k_1}{J_2} & -\frac{k_1}{J_2}-\frac{k_2}{J_2} & \frac{d_1}{J_2} & -\frac{d_1}{J_2}-\frac{d_2}{J_2} \\ \end{array} \right|\end{split}

One thing we can note about this construction of A is that the first two rows might be easier to express as a matrix of zeros and an identity matrix. In other words, it might be simpler to construct the matrix as a set of sub-matrices, i.e.,

\begin{split}A &= \left| \begin{array}{cc} \left| \begin{array}{cc} 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 \end{array} \right| ~ \left| \begin{array}{cc} 1 & 0 \\ 0 & 1 \end{array} \right| \\ \left| \begin{array}{cc} -\frac{k_1}{J_1} & \frac{k_1}{J_1} \\ \frac{k_1}{J_2} & -\frac{k_1}{J_2}-\frac{k_2}{J_2} \end{array} \right| \left| \begin{array}{cc} -\frac{d_1}{J_1} & \frac{d_1}{J_1} \\ \frac{d_1}{J_2} & -\frac{d_1}{J_2}-\frac{d_2}{J_2} \end{array} \right| \end{array} \right|\end{split}

In Modelica, we can construct our A matrix from sub-matrices in this way:

model RotationalSMD_Concat
  "State space version of a rotationals spring-mass-damper system using concatenation"
  parameter Real J1=0.4;
  parameter Real J2=1.0;
  parameter Real c1=11;
  parameter Real c2=5;
  parameter Real d1=0.2;
  parameter Real d2=1.0;
  parameter Real S[2,2] = [-1/J1, 1/J1; 1/J2, -1/J2];
  extends LTI(nx=4, nu=0, ny=0, x0={0, 1, 0, 0},
                  A=[zeros(2, 2), identity(2);
                     c1*S+[0,0;0,-c2/J2], d1*S+[0,0;0,-d2/J2]],
                  B=fill(0, 4, 0), C=fill(0, 0, 4),
                  D=fill(0, 0, 0));
  u = fill(0, 0);
end RotationalSMD_Concat;

In the section above we do not include a representation of the Lotka-Volterra equations in LTI form. This is because the Lotka-Volterra equations, while being time-invariant, are not linear. It is worth pointing out that Modelica does not directly enforce either of these properties when using the LTI model. So it is possible to represent non-linear or time-variant models using this approach. But it would be confusing since the term LTI implies that the equations are both linear and time-invariant.

Using Components

In all of these examples so far, we’ve used inheritance (via extends) to reuse the equations from the LTI model. In general, there is a much better way to reuse these equations which is to treat them as sub-components. To see how this is done, we will recast our previous electrical examples in LTI form. But this time, we’ll create a named instance of the LTI model:

model RLC "State space version of an RLC circuit"
  parameter Real Vb=24;
  parameter Real L=1;
  parameter Real R=100;
  parameter Real C=1e-3;
  LTI rlc_comp(nx=2, nu=1, ny=2, x0={0,0},
               A=[-1/(R*C), 1/C; -1/L, 0],
               B=[0; 1/L],
               C=[1/R, 0; -1/R, 1],
               D=[0; 0]);
  rlc_comp.u = {Vb};
end RLC;

Note that this time we do not use extends or inheritance of any kind. Instead, we actually declare a variable called rlc_comp that is of type LTI. Once we have finished covering all the basics of how to describe different kinds of behavior in Modelica, we’ll turn our attention to how to organize all these equations into reusable Components. But for now, this is just a “sneak peek” of (big) things to come.

What we see in this RLC example is that we now have a variable called rlc_comp and this component, in turn, has all the parameters and variables of the LTI model inside it. So, for example, we see that our equation to specify the input, u, is written as:

rlc_comp.u = {Vb};

Note that this equation means that we are providing an equation for the variable u that is inside the variable rlc_comp. As we will see later, we can use hierarchy to manage a considerable amount of complexity that arises from complex system descriptions. The use of the . operation here is how we can reference variables that are organized in this hierarchical manner. Again, this will be discussed thoroughly when we introduce Components.