Thirty Years of Reference Governors: Fundamentals, applications, and extensions


  • Hamid-Reza Ossareh
  • Ilya V. Kolmanovsky
  • Emanuele Garone
  • Marco M. Nicotra
  • Uros V. Kalabic


  • Hamid Ossareh, University of Vermont, Burlington USA
  • Ilya Kolmanovsky, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA
  • Emanuele Garone, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Marco Nicotra, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
  • Uroš Kalabić, Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories, Cambridge, MA, USA


Reference management schemes are used to enforce pointwise-in-time state and control constraints by suitably manipulating the reference signal of a pre-stabilized control system. Typical examples include “reference governors” and “command governors”, which are applied to discrete-time systems, but other formulations exist, which this workshop will also cover. Reference management is particularly attractive in industrial practice where existing, legacy controllers are considered reliable and well-performing around an operating point, but provide no guarantees of constraint satisfaction for large set-point changes. In these cases, legacy controllers can be augmented with relatively simple reference management techniques that provide rigorous guarantees for both constraint enforcement and asymptotic convergence/stability, while ensuring a small computational footprint. The workshop will introduce participants to the fundamental theory of reference management schemes and will provide all the necessary tools to understand and design suitable solutions for various classes of systems, including linear, nonlinear, networked, periodic, MIMO, and stochastic systems. Recent developments such as machine-learning methods for reference governors, as well as technologically relevant applications of these schemes, will also be covered. The workshop will end with an overview of current research on the subject and a discussion of future perspectives in the form of a panel.


  • Welcome and overview of the day
  • The contributions and legacy of Professor Elmer Gilbert
  • An introduction to the Reference Governor
  • Break
  • Reference Governor – Extended Schemes and connections with Model Predictive Control
  • Explicit Reference Governor
  • Lunch
  • Robust Techniques and Computational Aspects
  • Advanced Topics: Reduced Order Governors, Reference Governors with Output-only measurements, MIMO and periodic systems, Nonlinear and Networked Systems, Learning and reference governors, Stochastic Systems
  • Break
  • Examples of Industrial Applications (Automotive and Aerospace systems, Robotics, Energy Systems)
  • Conclusions and Panel Discussion