*Cyber-physical systems: a model-based approach* is for anyone interested in becoming a cyber-physical system designer or innovator of, for example, machines, manufactured products, processes, or the combination of such things. The authors illustrate the purpose of such design or innovation with the goal to meet certain societal demands. Autonomous and electric vehicles, quadcopters, cellphones, and robots are recent examples of such developments. More than ever before, the term “cyber-physical” is helpful to characterize such systems since the field mixes components that were previously relegated to relatively different disciplines, particularly computer science and physical sciences.

The authors give readers the feeling that a more holistic and unified understanding of such systems is becoming increasingly necessary. Readers should be familiar with the following topics: arithmetic, basic algebra, polynomials, geometry, and trigonometry; linear algebra and calculus; and computer basics. No experience in programming is required. With this book, the authors accomplish this purpose by employing a model-based approach, which helps readers hone their mathematical modeling skills in a way that allows them to incorporate knowledge from a variety of technical fields into the same model. Simultaneously, we are directed by the fact that various sorts of activities go into the process of establishing and growing such systems, three of which are addressed in this book: learning, teamwork, and design.

The authors describe design in a very modern way: a process that combines creativity and experimentation, two concepts that are inextricably linked--trying things out is an important part of the process of creating something new and ensuring that it fulfills its intended function. This book uses the Acumen modeling and simulation environment to help readers experiment and explore concepts quickly. Acumen was created based on three essential mathematical principles, making it easier for both learners and researchers to understand models that incorporate these concepts. It contains several features that can help readers improve their core creative abilities, including specificity, time, visualization, and openness.

The book consists of nine chapters and an appendix. The first chapter introduces the discipline of cyber-physical systems (CPS), places it in perspective, and explains why this interdisciplinary subject is so important in today’s connected society. Chapter 2 includes the modeling of mechanical and electrical systems. The authors discuss statics, dynamics, and conservation rules, and they use linear equations and ordinary differential equations (ODE) to model such systems quantitatively. Physical models are used to capture events that occur over time and space. The key topic presented in chapter 3 is how to model phenomena that may contain both continuous and discrete components. A proposed solution is modeling these phenomena as hybrid systems, for example, modeling a bouncing ball as a hybrid automata, as well as providing instances of physical systems with discrete and continuous computational elements.

Chapter 4 covers the fundamentals of control theory, including static and dynamic control and proportional integral derivative (PID) control. Chapter 5 nicely follows with “the effects of digital controllers, actuators, and sensors.” Quantization and discretization are two effects produced by such devices. A hybrid system can be used to mimic “the continuous evolution of a CPS device in the physical world [which is] subject to control and sensory discretization and quantization effects.

Chapter 6 discusses coordinate transformations, which are crucial for the design of a CPS. Several examples are provided, such as considering robotic arm manipulation and the conversion of Euclidean to polar coordinates. Chapter 7 discusses issues that arise in multi-agent systems where agents may have distinct, possibly conflicting, agendas. It clarifies and bridges the gap between systems with many devices that, for example, “compete or collaborate for resources.”

Chapter 8 introduces communication from a perspective that is appropriate to the CPS context. Chapter 9 does the same for the fundamentals of sensing and actuation. Appendix A contains a significantly revised form of the Acumen language user manual used in this work.

The purpose of this book is to inspire you to ask questions. To give you an example, the book itself uses questions to motivate many different themes and ideas. One of the most crucial talents for lifelong learning is the ability to ask questions:

It is an activity that involves taking stock of what we know and identifying the gaps that we need to fill to achieve a certain goal.

The book focuses on what could be accomplished with these ideas rather than what should be done.