Real-Time Systems - Course Program 2018

Real-time systems are characterized by the fact that it is not only the result of the calculation that is of importance but also the time when the result is available. A computer used for controlling a process is a good example of a real-time system. It must operate in a time-scale that is determined by the time scale of the process. At the same time, it should be reactive to external events, often with time constraints on the reaction time. Two classes of computer control systems are generic industrial control systems and embedded control systems found in, e.g., aerospace applications, industrial robots, or autonomous vehicles.

The aim of the course is to study methods for design and implementation of computer control systems with a focus on the application classes mentioned. The implementation part of the course is done in project form.

After the course, the students should have sufficient knowledge to, on their own, implement smaller dedicated control systems and a thorough understanding of the system aspects of large industrial control systems.


 Name  Role  Email  Phone
Karl-Erik Årzén Course responsible & lecturer 046-2228782
Martina Maggio Course responsible & lecturer  046-2228777
Mika Nishimura LADOK administrator 046-2228785
Tommi Nylander Teaching assistant   
Marcus Thelander Andrén Teaching assistant  
Victor Millnert Teaching assistant  



Lecture Date  Time  Room  Topic  Lecturer
 L1  Jan 16  10-12  M:B  Introduction  Both
LX  Jan 17  15-17  M:2112b  Extra: Introduction to Java  Martina
 L2  Jan 18  10-12  M:D  Concurrent programming  Martina 
 L3  Jan 19  10-12  M:D  Process communication 1  Martina
 L4  Jan 23  10-12  M:D  Process communication 2  Martina
 L5  Jan 24  10-12  M:D  Interrupts and time  Martina
 L6   Jan 26  10-12  M:D  Sampling of linear systems  Karl-Erik
 L7   Jan 30  10-12  M:D  Input-output models  Karl-Erik
 L8   Feb 1  10-12  M:D  Approx. of analog controllers, PID   Anton
 L9   Feb 6  10-12  M:D  State feedback and observers  Karl-Erik
L10   Feb 8  10-12  M:D  Feedforward design  Karl-Erik
L11   Feb 13  10-12  M:D  Implementation aspects  Martina
L12   Feb 15  10-12  M:D  Scheduling theory  Martina
L13   Feb 20  10-12  M:D  Project Specifications  Both
L14   Mar 1  10-12  M:B  Discrete-event control  Karl-Erik
L15   Mar 22  15-17  M:E  Real-Time Networks  Karl-Erik
LY   Mar 28 15-17  M2112B  Extra: Repetition lecture  Both
L16   Mar 29 15-17  M:E  Hot research topics  Both
L17   May 14   15-17  M:E  Project demos & oral presentations  -


Slides are available on the Lectures page and are also handed out at the lectures.



There are two parallel exercise tracks: five computer exercises (C), starting in study week 2, and six problem-solving exercises (P), starting in study week 3. All exercises are held during study period 3 except the two last problem-solving exercises which are held at the beginning of study period 4. In addition, there are two extra exercises: one on basic Java programming on Jan 19, 15-17 and one basic Matlab exercise on Jan 26, 15-17.

For the ordinary computer exercises, there are three exercise groups on Tuesdays 13-15, and 15-17 and Wednesdays 10-12. Similarly, there are three exercise groups for the problem-solving exercises, held in study period 3 on Wednesdays 8-10, Thursday 8-10, and Friday 10-12. In order for us to balance the load in the exercise groups, you must pre-register for the exercise groups. The link for doing this will be made available on Friday, Jan 18 and announced on the website. All exercises are held in Automatic Control Lab A on the first floor of the M-building.

 Exercise  Dates  Topic
C0  Jan 19, 15-17  Extra: Introduction to Java
C1  Jan 23, 13-15, 15-17 - Jan 24, 8-10  Threads
P0  Jan 26, 15-17  Extra: Introduction to Matlab
C2  Jan 30, 13-15, 15-17 - Jan 31, 10-12  Synchronization
P1  Jan 31, 8-10 - Feb 1, 8-10 - Feb 2, 10-12  Sampling of systems
C3  Feb 6, 13-15, 15-17 - Feb 7, 10-12  Controller implementation
P2  Feb 7, 8-10 - Feb 8, 8-10 - Feb 9, 10-12  Input-output models
C4   Feb 13, 13-15, 15-17 - Feb 14, 10-12  Graphical user interface 
P3   Feb 14, 8-10 - Feb 15, 8-10 - Feb 16, 10-12  State feedback and observers 
C5   Feb 20, 13-15, 15-17 - Feb 21, 10-12  Prepare Lab 1 
P4   Feb 21, 8-10 - Feb 22, 8-10 - Feb 23, 8-10  Discrete approximation, PID 
P5   Mar 20, 10-12 - Mar 22, 8-10  Fixed-point implementation 
P6   Mar 27, 10-12 - Mar 29, 8-10  Scheduling theory 

The Problem-Solving Exercises are in the book sold at KF-Sigma. The Computer Exercises and related material are available on the Exercises page.

Laboratory sessions

The course contains three 4-hour laboratory sessions. Lab 1 will take place during weeks 6 and 7 of study period 3. Labs 2 and 3 will take place during weeks 8 of study period 3 and weeks 1 and 2 of study period 4. Electronic sign-up lists will be posted approximatively two weeks before each lab starts. 

 Lab   Approx. dates   Topic  Sign-up opens  Responsible
1  Feb 21-Mar 2  Control of the ball and beam process  Jan 30 Victor Millnert
2  Mar 5-9  Sequence control of a bead sorter process  Feb 19 Marcus Thelander Andrén
3  Mar 19-30  Embedded control of a rotating DC servo TBD Tommi Nylander



The projects are performed as team-work with the size of four persons per team (in special cases it is OK with smaller project teams). Constraints on hardware, processes, and supervisors require synchronization among the projects. If you are following the Predictive Control course it will be possible to do a joint project between the courses. Important dates:

  • Feb 20, at Lecture 13: Presentation of available projects
  • Feb 27: Deadline for team formation and project selection
  • Mar 23: Deadline for the suggested solution
  • May 11: Deadline for project report
  • May 14: Project demos (mandatory)
  • May 14: Oral presentations (mandatory)


  • K.-E. Årzén, "Real-Time Control Systems" (2015 edition)
  • B. Wittenmark, K.J. Åström, K.-E. Årzén, "Computer Control: An Overview", Educational Version 2016
  • Exercises with solutions (2015 Version)

All material is sold by KF-Sigma. The 2014 versions of the books are very similar and also possible to use.


Mandatory parts: Three laboratory sessions, project, written exam (5 hours).
The exam consists of 25 points and gives the grade Fail, 3, 4, or 5. Accepted aid: The textbooks Real-Time Control Systems and Computer Control: An Overview - Educational Version; standard mathematical tables, authorized "Real-Time Systems Formula Sheet”, authorized "Reglerteknik AK Formelsamling"; pocket calculator. Slides copies are not allowed.

The coming exams are

  • Wednesday, April 11, 8:00 -13:00, Victoriastadion 1A-1B
  • Thursday, May 31. 8:00 - 13:00, Sparta D
  • Saturday, September 1, 8:00 - 13:00, Sparta C

(Lectures 2–17 and the exercise sessions are not mandatory.)