Systems Science & Mathematics History

The Department of Systems Science and Mathematics (SSM) was founded in 1974 by John Zaborszky, who led the control engineering group in the mechanical engineering department, by combining the faculty in his group and the applied mathematics faculty in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Sciences. He thus became founding Chair of the new Department of SSM and was successful in getting major research funds from several federal agencies. He hired 9 new faculty members in the then burgeoning area of systems engineering. They included Dave Elliott, T. J. Tarn, Ian Rhodes, Jan van Schuppen, Hiro Mukai, Hai Huang, Mark Shayman, Heinz Schattler, and Bijoy Gosh. In the 70s, John Zaborszky served as President of the IEEE Control Systems Society as well as a member of the IEEE Board of Directors. In the 70s and 80s, only a few major universities like UC Berkeley, MIT and U of Illinois had more than 5 professors in systems. The SSM Department continued to secure major grants and established its international reputation in systems and control in the 70s through 80s in the theoretical areas of systems theory, nonlinear control, optimal control and estimation as well as in the application areas of electrical power systems, robotics and quantum computing. This international fame continued in the 90s, after Chris Byrnes took over as Chair of the SSM Department and brought in Alberto Isidori. Byrnes and Isidori were considered as the top researchers in nonlinear control. In the 90s, T. J. Tarn served as President of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society.

The Engineering Dean in 2003 transferred the 4 faculty members in the computer engineering area from the EE Department to the then Computer Science Department and formed the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE). The Dean immediately merged the SSM Department and the now smaller EE Department and formed the Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering in 2003. The Dean then hired a new department chair, Arye Nehorai, for the ESE Department in 2006.

The SSM Department produced many professors and several deans: Ning Xi, Renjeng Su, Mark Spong, Prakash Narayan, P. R. Kumar, Jonathan Caulkins, Massoud Amin, Jennifer Dionne, Xiaopin Yun, Turhan Tunali, Marija Ilic, Jeremy Ackerman, Mingjun Zhang, Daizahn Cheng, Dirk Aeyels, Nicholas Kalouptsidis, Riccardo Marino, W. P. Dayawansa, Ronald Greenberg, Abraham Wang, Xin Feng, Sandeep Maheshwari, Donald H. Leake, Akio Tanikawa among others.

Notes were written by Dr. Hiro Mukai