Two electrical engineers, one problem, and evolution produced the same solution: A historical note
This note adds historical context into solving the problem of improving the speed of the step response of a low-order plant in two different types of control systems, a chemical mixing system and the human saccadic system. Two electrical engineers studied the above problem: one to understand and model how nature and evolution solved it and the other to design a control system to solve it in a man-made commercial system. David A. Robinson discovered that fast and accurate saccades were produced by a pulse-step of neural innervation applied to the extraocular plant. Leonidas M. Mantgiaris invented a method to achieve rapid and accurate chemical mixing by applying a large stimulus for a short period of time and then replacing it with the desired steady-state value (i.e., a “pulse-step” input). Thus, two humans used their brains to: 1) determine how the human brain produced human saccades; and 2) invent a control-system method to produce fast and accurate chemical mixing. That the second person came up with the same method by which his own brain was making saccades may shed light on the question of whether the human brain can fully understand itself.
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