Control and Signal Processing Lab

What is Control and Signal Processing?

Control and signal processing is ubiquitous. It is ‘under the hood’ of myriad devices from mobile telephones to power grids.


Control, formally known as either automatic control or control engineering, is the challenge of automating the task of getting something, say a car or a blast furnace, to do or produce a desired outcome in an optimal way, say travel at a constant speed or produce as much useful product using the least amount of materials and energy. A fundamental concept is ‘feedback’; cruise control on a car works by sensing the instantaneous speed of the car and ‘feeding back’ that information to the device that determines how much to press the accelerator based on the difference between the desired and actual speeds. Some modern jet fighters are aerodynamically unstable and would be unflyable without computer control.

Signal Processing

Signal processing is the challenge of extracting useful information from signals, such as the signal received by a radar dish, despite significant corruption of the signal by noise and other interfering signals. The streaming of video to mobile phones would be impossible without sophisticated signal processing algorithms at every step of the way, from compressing the video right through to its correct reception and decoding despite many different users competing for the same small share of radio spectrum made available to the telecommunications companies.

There is a deep theoretical side to control and signal processing which is applicable to any system, whether it be mechanical, electrical, biological or even a financial market. This theory provides a ‘systematic approach’ to the design of control and signal processing algorithms for real-world problems, and brings additional insight to the challenge of discovering how biological networks perform control and signal processing tasks such as catching a ball and recognising different sounds in a noisy environment.

Real-world applications that CSPL members are interested in include distribution networks, environmental monitoring, biomedical devices and automotive control.

Contact Us

Prof Jonathan Manton

Director, Control and Signal Processing Laboratory