Harold Chestnut

Harold Chestnut

Infobox Scientist
name = Harold Chestnut

image_width =
caption = Harold Chestnut in 1957
birth_date = birth date|1917|11|25
birth_place = Albany, New York
death_date = death date and age|2001|8|29|1917|11|25
death_place = Schenectady, New York
residence = United States
citizenship = American
nationality =
ethnicity =
fields = Control theory
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awards = Richard E. Bellman Control Heritage Award
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Harold (Hal) Chestnut (25 November 1917, Albany - Schenectady, NY 29 August 2001) was an American electrical engineer, who contributed to the development of the fields of control theory and systems engineering.


Harold Chestnut was born in 1918. He studied electrical engineering at MIT and received a B.S. degree in 1939 and a M.S. degrees in 1940. In that same year he began a life-long career with the General Electric Company, which would last until his retirement in 1983. He married his wife Erma Ruth Callaway Chestnut in 1944 and they had three sons.

During the Second World War Chestnut was both a student and an instructor in General Electric's well-known Advanced Engineering Program. He worked on the design of the central fire-control system and remotely controlled gunturrets used on the B-29 aircraft. [ [http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r1/schenectady/current_source_april2002.pdf In memoriam—Harold Chestnut] IEEE the current source, Vol 28, no 1, April 2002.] Later he worked in the Aeronautics and Ordnance Department and the Systems Engineering and Analysis branch of the Advanced Technology Laboratory, where he served as manager from 1956 to 1972. Here he worked on a wide variety of technical problems including reliability issues in rapid transit and the Apollo mission to the moon. Stephen Kahne, "Harold Chestnut, First IFAC President", in: Automatica, June 2002, Volume 38, No. 6.] Later in his career he returned to the field of electric power. This time the focus was power systems automation.

From 1957 to 1959 he was the first president of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC). After his term as president he chaired the technical board, from 1961 to 1966 and the Systems Engineering technical committee for another three years. He served as honorary editor from 1969 to 1972 and was the first advisor appointed for life in 1984. Chestnut was also involved in the IEEE since its establishment in 1963 and served as president in 1973. He was active in the formation of the IEEE History Center and the International Federation of Automatic Control.

In 1961 Chestnut edited Automatica: The International Journal on Automatic Control and Automation. He also became editor of a John Wiley book series on systems engineering and analysis. In this series Chestnut published his own books.

In the 1980s and 1990s after retirement he create the "Supplemental Ways ofImproving International Stability (SWIIS) Foundation" to identify and implement "supplemental ways to improve international stability". He devoted those years to this effort in which he applied principles from the control field, such as stability and feedback, to international political realities.

Harold Chestnut received many awards: In 1966 he received an Honorary Doctorate in engineering from Case Institute of Technology, Cleveland, and in 1972 from Villanova University. In 1984 he won the IEEE Centennial Medal and in 1985 the AACC Bellman Heritage Award. Chestnut further in 1981 received the prestigious Honda Prize for ecotechnology, with it a substantial financial award from the Japan’s Honda Foundation. [ [http://www.hondafoundation.jp/en/project/hondaprize/list1980.html Hondaprize 1980] . Dr. Harold Chestnut was awarded:
* For his achievements associated with the promotion of humanitarian use of technology as a world leader in systems engineering that encompasses electrical, electronic, instrumentation, and automatic control.
] He was further a Fellow of the AIEE, ISA, and AAAS. He was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering in 1974 and selected as a Case Centennial Scholar in 1980.

In 1998 Harold Chestnut and the Chestnut Family provided a gift to IFAC for the IFAC Textbook Prize. The income from this generous gift is used to fund the award for an outstanding textbook author recognized at each IFAC Congress.


Harold Chestnut worked in the fields of control, control theory and systems engineering.

Control theory

Chestnut's early control work concerned stability issues in electric power systems. The design and manufacturing of electric power system components - generators, transformers, motors, etc. was a major part of GE's activity then and now. In the late 1940s he wrote his first book about this. This pace-setting volume established his reputation as a leading figure in the international control community.

International Federation of Automatic Control

The International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) is an international federation for organizations concerned with automatic control. The aims of the Federation are to promote the science and technology of control in the broadest sense in all systems, whether, for example, engineering, physical, biological, social or economic, in both theory and application. The federation is also concerned with the impact of control technology on society. [ [http://www.ifac-control.org/ IFAC] website 2007.] The federation was founded in September 1957, after a year of preparation by a working group suggested by Chestnut. It came into existence under the leadership of its Executive Council and first president Harold Chestnut. It consisted of representatives from West Germany, the USSR, France, the United Kingdom, Poland, and the USA. In the midst of the Cold War, IFAC was organized as a federation of national member organizations, the only model acceptable at that time to organizations behind the Iron Curtain.

Systems engineering

"Systems Engineering Methods" from 1967 is one of the classics of system engineering that belongs on every system engineer's bookshelf. Just as A. D. Hall, "A Methodology for Systems Engineering". from 1962, and as such, it is "required reading" for all system engineers. [http://www.cit.gu.edu.au/~davidt/tech_biblio.htm "Systems Engineering Process a Technical Bibliography"] , by David Tuffley, Griffith University, 2001.] The book covers:
# The environment for systems engineering,
# System organization, scheduling, and record-keeping,
# Formulating and structuring the system,
# Factors for judging the value of a system,
# Cost-estimation and cost-effectiveness analysis,
# Operational meanings and effects of time, and PERT-type network analysis,
# Reliability, and (8) future opportunities for systems engineering. It is believed that few subjects are covered deeply enough to make the book useful as a text or self-study guide without considerable supplementary reading. [ [http://stinet.dtic.mil/oai/oai?&verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=AD0663411 Review of "Systems Engineering Methods"by Harold Chestnut] , By Edward E. Blum, Rand Corp, Dec 1967.]

Systems requirements

In the 1970 article "Information requirements for systems understanding" Chestnut categorizes the basic information requirements for describing systems as:
# Structure, the interrelationships of the system's parts;
# Distinguishing qualities, what differentiates the system from other structures of a similar form or nature; and
# Magnitude, probability, and time. Chestnut argues that knowledge of these parameters could prevent unnecessary duplication of effort and more efficient use of hardware and software.

See also

* Automatic control.
* Systems engineering


Harold Chestnut published several articles and books, a selection:
* 1951. "Servomechanisms and Regulating Systems Design". Vol. 1, with R.W. Mayer, Wiley.
* 1955. "Servomechanisms and Regulating Systems Design". Vol. 2, with R.W. Mayer, Wiley.
* 1965. "Systems Engineering Tools". Wiley.
* 1967. "Systems Engineering Methods". Wiley.

* 1970. "Information requirements for systems understanding". In: "IEEE Trans. Syst. Sci. Cybern.". Vol. SSC-6. pp. 3-12, Jan. 1970.


Further reading

* Stephen Kahne (2002). [http://www.autsubmit.com/editorials/ed38_6.html "Harold Chestnut, First IFAC President"] . In: "Automatica", June 2002, Volume 38, No. 6.
* U. Luoto et al (1978). "20 Years Old; 20 years Young". In: "AUTOMATICA". Vol. 14, pp 49-75, 1978.
* "In memoriam - Harold Chestnut (1918-2001)", in: "Control Systems Magazine, IEEE", Volume 22, Issue 2, Apr 2002 Pp. 87 - 87.
* [http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r1/schenectady/current_source_april2002.pdf "In memoriam—Harold Chestnut"] . In: "IEEE the current source". Vol 28, no 1, April 2002.

External links

* [http://www.ifac-control.org/ IFAC] homepage
* [http://www.ifac-control.org/awards/harold-chestnut-control-engineering-textbook-prize Harold Chestnut Control Engineering Textbook Prize]
* [http://www.theinstitute.ieee.org/inst_art.jsp?isno=04961&arnumber=03021_obits&section=18 Harold Chestnut: 1973 IEEE president] , 01 March 2002.

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