On defining the partial control problem: Concepts and examples

Mayuresh V. Kothare, Reuel Shinnar, Irven Rinard, Manfred Morari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many complex chemical processes having a large number of process variables and poorly understood models can be controlled reasonably well by controlling only a small subset of process variables using an equally small number of manipulated variables. This is the central premise of this article and is referred to as partial control. Knowingly or unknowingly, this idea has been and continues to be applied to successfully control numerous complex industrial processes. Despite its widespread use, partial control has never been explicitly formulated. The partial control problem is defined. A number of terms is introduced such as process variable dominance, modelable responses, practical degrees of freedom, and sufficiency of partial control. The new framework allows incorporation of both engineering-based decisions and more rigorous theoretical tools to achieve the goals of partial control. A number of practical examples illustrate the applicability of these concepts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2456-2474
Number of pages19
JournalAICHE Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Polymers and Plastics


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