Principles of Cyber-Physical Systems

Rajeev Alur

MIT Press, 2015


A cyber-physical system consists of a collection of computing devices communicating with one another and interacting with the physical world via sensors and actuators in a feedback loop. Increasingly, such systems are everywhere, from smart buildings to medical devices to automobiles. This textbook offers a rigorous and comprehensive introduction to the principles of design, specification, modeling, and analysis of cyber-physical systems. The book draws on a diverse set of subdisciplines, including model-based design, concurrency theory, distributed algorithms, formal methods for specification and verification, control theory, real-time systems, and hybrid systems, explaining core ideas from each that are relevant to system design and analysis.

The book explains how formal models provide mathematical abstractions to manage the complexity of a system design. It covers both synchronous and asynchronous models for concurrent computation, continuous-time models for dynamical systems, and hybrid systems for integrating discrete and continuous evolution. The role of correctness requirements in the design of reliable systems is illustrated with a range of specification formalisms and the associated techniques for formal verification. The topics include safety and liveness requirements, temporal logic, model checking, deductive verification, stability analysis of linear systems, and real-time scheduling algorithms. Principles of modeling, specification, and analysis are illustrated by constructing solutions to representative design problems from distributed algorithms, network protocols, control design, and robotics.

Course Organization

This textbook is suitable for a semester-long course aimed at upper-level undergraduate or first-year graduate students in computer science, computer engineering, or electrical engineering. Such a course for students in the Embedded Systems Masters program at University of Pennsylvania has been offered for the past many years using drafts of this textbook. By a suitable selection of topics, it is possible to use this textbook for a course focused only on modeling, design, and case studies and also for a course focused on formal modeling and verification of (discrete) reactive systems. Available teaching resources incldue an extensive set of exercises of varying difficulty levels, solutions manual, powerpoint slides, and project suggestions.


Instructions on how to obtain solutions, slides, and projects are on the MIT Press website.


Cyber-physical systems are ubiquitous in modern technology. They occur in planes, automobiles, and other aspects of our daily life. It is critically important that they be correct, since people's lives may depend on them. This book is an excellent introduction to a complex and highly technical subject by the leading researcher in that field. I enthusiastically recommend it for either individual study or classroom use. --- Edmund M. Clarke, CMU.

This is the first self-contained and comprehensive textbook presenting an elegant and rigorous unification of the theoretical underpinnings behind the practices in the emerging field of cyber-physical systems. It is remarkably well written and documented. It is a unique guide to understanding the multifaceted aspects of cyber-physical systems and their numerous applications. --- Joseph Sifakis, EPFL.

For any questions and/or corrections, email Rajeev Alur.