Introduction to Root Locus

The introduction of a feedback to a system causes some instability , therefore an unstable system can not perform the control task requires of it.

while in the analysis of  a given system, the very first investigation that needs to be made is whether the system is stable or not?

However, the determination of stability of a system is necessary but not sufficient.

A stable system with low damping is also unwanted.

a design problem in which the designer is required to achieve the desired performance for a system by adjusting the location of its close loop poles in the S-plane by varying one (or) more system parameters.

The Routh’s criterion obviously does not help much in such problems.

for determining the location of closed-loop poles one may resort to the classical techniques of factoring the characteristic equation and determining it’s roots.

when the degree is higher (or) repeated calculations are required as a system parameter is varied for adjustments.

a simple technique, known as the root locus technique, for finding the roots of the ch.eqn introduced by W.R.Evans.

This technique provides a graphical method of plotting the locus of the roots in the S-plane as a given system parameter is varied from complete range of values (may be from zero to infinity).

The roots corresponding to a particular value of the system parameter can then be located on the locus (or) value of the parameter for a desired root location can be determined from the locus.

Root Locus:-

  • In the analysis and design for stable systems and gives information about transient response of control systems.
  • It gives information about absolute stability and relative stability of a system.
  • It clearly shows the ranges of stability and instability.
  • used for higher order differential equations.
  • value of k for a particular root location can be determined.
  • and the roots for a particular k can be determined using Root Locus.


ch. equation is 1+G(s)H(s)=0

let G(s)H(s)=D(s)



To find the whether the roots are on the Root locus (or) not

They have to satisfy ‘2’ criteria known as

  1. Magnitude Criterion.
  2. Angle Criterion.

Magnitude criterion:-

\left | D(s) \right |=1

\left | G(s)H(s) \right |=1

the magnitude criterion states that  s=s_{a}  will be a point on root locus, if for that value of s 

i.e, \left | G(s)H(s) \right |=1

Angle criterion:-

\angle D(s) = \angle G(s)H(s)=\pm 180^{o}(2q+1)

where q=0,1,2……….

if \angle D(s) = \pm 180^{o}(2q+1) is odd multiple of 180^{o}, a point s on the root locus, if \angle D(s) is odd multiple of at s=s_{a} of 180^{o}, then that point is on the root locus.

Root Locus definition:-

The locus of roots of the Ch. eqn in the S-plane by the variation of system parameters (generally gain k) from 0 to \infty is known as Root locus.

It is a graphical method 

-\infty to 0       \rightarrow     Inverse Root Locus

0  to \infty    \rightarrow  Direct Root Locus

generally Root Locus means Direct Root Locus.

D(s) = G(s)H(s) = k \frac{(s+z_{1})(s+z_{2})(s+z_{3})....}{(s+p_{1})(s+p_{2})(s+p_{3})....}

\left | D(s) \right | = k \frac{\left | s+z_{1} \right |\left | s+z_{2} \right |\left | s+z_{3} \right |....}{\left | s+p_{1} \right |\left | s+p_{2} \right |\left | s+p_{3} \right |....}

\left | D(s) \right | = k \frac{\prod_{i=1}^{m}\left | s+z_{i} \right |}{\prod_{i=1}^{n}\left | s+p_{i} \right |}

m= no .of zeros

n= no.of poles

from magnitude criterion \left | D(s) \right | = 1

k =\frac{\prod_{i=1}^{n}\left | s+p_{i} \right |}{\prod_{i=1}^{m}\left | s+z_{i} \right |}

The open loop gain k corresponding to a point s=s_{a} on Root Locus can be calculated 

k= product of length of vectors from open loop poles to the point s=s_{a}/product of length of vectors from open loop zeros to the point s=s_{a}.

from the Angle criterion,

\angle D(s) = \angle (s+z_{1})+\angle (s+z_{2})+\angle (s+z_{3})..... -\angle (s+p_{1})+\angle (s+p_{2})+\angle (s+p_{3}).....

\angle D(s) = \sum_{i=1}^{m}\angle (s+z_{i}) -\sum_{i=1}^{n}\angle (s+p_{i})

\sum_{i=1}^{m}\angle (s+z_{i}) -\sum_{i=1}^{n}\angle (s+p_{i})=\pm 180^{o}(2q+1)

i.e,( sum of angles of vectors from Open Loop zeros to point s=s_{a})-(sum of angles of vectors from Open Loop poles to points=s_{a}=\pm 180^{o}(2q+1)

where q=0,1,2………


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Author: Lakshmi Prasanna Ponnala

Completed M.Tech in Digital Electronics and Communication Systems and currently working as a faculty.

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