Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2008 (2008), Article ID 419046, 13 pages
Research Article

On the Essential Instabilities Caused by Fractional-Order Transfer Functions

Farshad Merrikh-Bayat and Masoud Karimi-Ghartemani

Department of Electrical Engineering, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran

Received 4 May 2008; Accepted 10 September 2008

Academic Editor: Jerzy Warminski

Copyright © 2008 Farshad Merrikh-Bayat and Masoud Karimi-Ghartemani. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The exact stability condition for certain class of fractional-order (multivalued) transfer functions is presented. Unlike the conventional case that the stability is directly studied by investigating the poles of the transfer function, in the systems under consideration, the branch points must also come into account as another kind of singularities. It is shown that a multivalued transfer function can behave unstably because of the numerator term while it has no unstable poles. So, in this case, not only the characteristic equation but the numerator term is of significant importance. In this manner, a family of unstable fractional-order transfer functions is introduced which exhibit essential instabilities, that is, those which cannot be removed by feedback. Two illustrative examples are presented; the transfer function of which has no unstable poles but the instability occurred because of the unstable branch points of the numerator term. The effect of unstable branch points is studied and simulations are presented.