I am not sure if the question even belongs here. Please correct me if it is out of context.

Consider a closed feedback loop. enter image description here

Usually, we say that $K^L(s)$ is a controller over the plat $G(s)$. Is there any reason it is called a plat?

The controlled system may be a car with cruise control, an actual plant, or even the famous F15. These are not necessarily plants. Was the theory originating from real plants and factories?

I am looking for something anchored in resources and not an intuitive explanation.


2 Answers 2


I have heard that the word comes from "plant" as in "steam plant". But I don't know of any historical research that's been done to pin down the term.

I did just check my copy of "On Governors" by James Clerk Maxwell himself (that guy got around). At least in 1868, Maxwell wasn't using the word "plant" for "thing being controlled".


"Plant" doesn't only refer to the living thing that has chlorophyll; it, in the context of control, refers to a technical system with in and output – some production line, a whole factory, a nuclear power plant.

As such, there's nothing more intuitive than the word itself: a plant is what is being controlled.

  • $\begingroup$ I am familiar with the translation for the word plant and the intuition you gave is my intuition as well. A system under a control loop could be a car (not a plant in this case). I am looking for the origin of the name and not an intuitive explanation. $\endgroup$
    – havakok
    May 18, 2020 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ hm, for me, a car is a plant, because it's a technical system transforming a physical input into physical output. But if you're actually looking for the etymology of that word, maybe the "english (anglistics)" stackexchange sister site is the right place to ask? $\endgroup$ May 18, 2020 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ I thought it was but I am not sure due to this being a technical name. $\endgroup$
    – havakok
    May 18, 2020 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ Ha! Have a look here too: electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/522825/… $\endgroup$
    – P2000
    Sep 23, 2020 at 14:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.