Roger W. Brockett

Roger W. Brockett

  • An Wang Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Emeritus


As high-data-rate sensing mechanisms have proliferated and the value of autonomous decision making has become more widely recognized, many sophisticated techniques have been applied to process data within feedback loops. As a result, interest in estimation and control algorithms suitable for time-critical applications has grown. Professor Brockett's research is concerned with the development of prototype modules and general principles that can be used to design such systems and to predict how they will interact with their environment.

Robots are one example of computer-controlled machines in which motion control is a central issue. Others include surveillance vehicles, numerically controlled machine tools, autonomous loaders, repair vehicles, etc. Many recent efforts to permit these systems to react to various sensory data in real time incorporate new computational paradigms, such as neural networks and adaptive arrays. In recent work, Professor Brockett and his coworkers have shown how parallel analog algorithms can be used for these purposes and how several problems in combinatorial optimization can be understood in the context of control and dynamical systems.

Problems of computational tractability are critical to systems that must operate in real time. An answer that cannot be computed in a fixed amount of time may be useless. To operate within these constraints, systems must reduce data as they are gathered, making use of special data structures that facilitate rapid computation. One goal of current research is the development of a device-independent language to control such systems and to model in a useful way systems that are language driven.

Contact Information

Office:Maxwell Dworkin 110A
Office Phone:(617) 495-3922
Office Fax(617) 496-6404
Lab Location:338 Maxwell Dworkin
Lab Phone:(617) 495-7871
Assistant:Kathleen L. Masse
Assistant Office:Pierce 118
Assistant Phone:(617) 495-4202
Research Mgr: Kathleen Marie Kelley

Primary Teaching Area

Positions & Employment

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

  • An Wang Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Other Experience & Professional Membership

  • Elected to the National Academy of Engineering, 1991
  • American Automatic Control Council's Richard E. Bellman Control Heritage Award, 1989
  • Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) since 1974
  • Member of the AMS, SIAM, Sigma Xi, and Tau Beta Pi
  • Member, IEEE Control Society Advisory Committee, 1972-1975
  • Member, IEEE, Program Chairman for the Joint Automatic Control Conference, 1971
  • Member, IEEE Automatic Control Group's Information Dissemination Committee, 1966-1969


  • Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising, 2011
  • IEEE Leon K. Kirchmayer Graduate Teaching Award, 2009
  • Rufus Oldenburger Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2005
  • W.T. and Idalia Reid Prize in Mathematics from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, 1996
  • IEEE Field award in Systems Science and Engineering, 1991
  • IEEE Control Systems Award, 1991
  • Richard E. Bellman Control Heritage Award from the American Automatic Control Council, 1989