Noteworthy Differences from other Languages

If you are new to the Julia programming language, you are encouraged to visit the documentation page on noteworthy differences between Julia and other programming languages.

The rest of this page will list noteworthy differences between ControlSystems.jl and other pieces of control-systems software.

  • Functions to calculate poles and zeros of systems are named using their plural forms, i.e., poles instead of pole, and tzeros instead of tzero.
  • Simulation using lsim, step, impulse returns arrays where time is in the second dimension rather than in the first dimension (applies also to freqresp, bode, nyquist etc.). Julia uses a column major memory layout, and this choice is made for performance reasons.
  • Functions are, lqr and kalman have slightly different signatures in julia compared to in other languages. More advanced LQG functionalities are located in RobustAndOptimalControl.jl.
  • Simulation using lsim, step, impulse etc. return a structure that can be plotted. These functions never plot anything themselves.
  • Functions bode, nyquist etc. never produce a plot. Instead, see bodeplot, nyquistplot etc.
  • In Julia, functionality is often split up into several different packages. You may therefore have to install and use additional packages in order to cover all your needs. See Ecosystem for a collection of control-related packages.
  • In Julia, 1 has a different type than 1.0, and the types in ControlSystemsBase.jl respect the types chosen by the user. As an example, tf(1, [1, 1]) is a transfer function with integer coefficients, while tf(1.0, [1, 1]) will promote all coefficients to Float64.
  • Julia treats matrices and vectors as different types, in particular, column vectors and row vectors are not interchangeable.
  • In Julia, code can often be differentiated using automatic differentiation. When using ControlSystems.jl, we recommend trying ForwardDiff.jl for AD. An example making use of this is available here.
  • In Julia, the source code is often very readable. If you want to learn how a function is implemented, you may find the macros @edit or @less useful to locate the source code.
  • If you run into an issue (bug) with a Julia package, you can share this issue (bug report) on the package's github page and it will often be fixed promptly. To open an issue with ControlSystems.jl, click here. Thank you for helping out improving open-source software!
  • Julia compiles code just before it is called the first time. This introduces a noticeable lag, and can make packages take a long time to load. If you want to speed up the loading of ControlSystems.jl, consider building a system image that includes ControlSystems.jl using PackageCompiler.jl. More info about this is available below under Precompilation for faster load times

If you find other noteworthy differences between ControlSystems.jl and other pieces of control-related software, please consider submitting a pull request (PR) to add to the list above. You can submit a PR by clicking on "Edit on GitHub" at the top of this page and then clicking on the icon that looks like a pen above the file viewer. A two-minute video on this process is available below

Precompilation for faster load times

In order to make it faster to load the ControlSystems.jl package, you may make use of PackageCompiler.jl.

For developers

If you intend to develop ControlSystem.jl, i.e., modify the source code, it's not recommended to build the package into the system image. We then recommend to build OrdinaryDiffEq into the system image since this package contributes the largest part of the loading time.

Building a custom system image can dramatically reduce the time to get started in a new Julia session, as an example:

  • Without system image:
julia> @time using ControlSystems
  5.725526 seconds (17.91 M allocations: 1.363 GiB, 8.31% gc time, 14.86% compilation time)
  • With OrdinaryDiffEq and Plots in the system image:
julia> @time using ControlSystems
  0.120975 seconds (413.37 k allocations: 27.672 MiB, 1.66% compilation time)

To build a system image with ControlSystems, save the following script in a file, e.g., precompile_controlsystems.jl (feel free to add any additional packages you may want to load).

using OrdinaryDiffEq # Include this if you want to develop ControlSystems.jl
using ControlSystems # Include this if you only want to use ControlSystems.jl
using Plots # In case you also want to use plotting functions

# Run some statements to make sure these are precompiled. Do not include this if you want to develop ControlSystems.jl
for P = StateSpace[ssrand(2,2,2), ssrand(2,2,2, Ts=0.1)]
    plot(step(P, 10))

Then run the following

using PackageCompiler
    precompile_execution_file = "precompile_execution_file",
    sysimage_path = "sys_ControlSystems_$(VERSION).so",

When you have created a system image, start Julia with the -J flag pointing to the system image that was created, named sys_ControlSystems_<VERSION>.so, more details here. After this, loading the package should be very fast.

Updating packages

When you update installed julia packages, the update will not be reflected in the system image until the image is rebuilt.

You can make vscode load this system image as well by adding

"julia.additionalArgs": [

to settings.json.