Michael Athans, pioneer in control theory, has died

EECS alumnus Michael Athans (B.S. '58/M.S. '59/Ph.D. '61, adivsor: Otto J. M. Smith), a pioneer in the field of control theory, has died at the age of 83.   Athans, who was born in Greece and graduated under the surname Athanassiades, had been a professor of electrical engineering at MIT for 34 years before retiring in 1998.  He helped shape modern control theory by developing central methodologies geared toward large-scale systems, which broadened the scope of the field, and helped spearhead the area of multivariable control system design and the field of robust control.  He became the director of the MIT Electronic Systems Laboratory in 1974, and renamed it the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) four years later, reflecting the lab’s expansion into new domains like transportation, energy, and economics.  Athans was also an award-winning educator, supervising the theses of more than 100 graduate students, producing nearly 70 videotaped lessons for practicing engineers, developing coursework, and co-authoring three books, including the foundational text “Optimal Control" (with Peter Falb).