Ralf Peeter in front of St. Jan's church
"During my studies, I learned to find the mix between interesting, abstract mathematics and real-world applications"

Sint Jan’s feedback

Giving directions is an art. How do you give directions that are not only precise, but which also remain valid in whatever unforeseen situation comes up?

Abstracting control

One of his current challenges comes from trying to figure out the properties of systems. “How do you describe systems and the incorporation of feedback mathematically? Departing from there, what are the best feedback mechanisms to couple to them? I want to know what I need to be able to calculate ‘control’. You want to incorporate feedback all the time, and you also want to do it efficiently. Control mechanisms need to be fast, sensitive and robust. There is a lot to be won there.”

Peeters seems to have hit the jackpot when it comes to the mix between diverse applications and pure mathematics. “My current work applies to the French space industry, but also to finance and to my main focus, signal analysis. Most likely, it will also apply to other things that we don’t even know about yet.”

One of those undiscovered applications just might be you: if you ever get lost, try to find a mathematician who is intimately familiar with feedback-driven mechanisms to help you out.

Ralf Peeters

Getting a bit technical

Mathematical abstractions may apply to a number of real-world scenarios. But even among those multi-purpose abstractions, there is a subset which has even more versatile applications than the rest. A central type of abstraction, which applies to other types of abstractions. Those systems, specifically, have Peeters’ attention. “But now we’re getting a little technical,” he says with a smile. However, it’s easy to see how working on this kind of super-abstraction gives rise to very diverse applications.


Sint Janskerk (St. John’s church)

Sint Janskerk
Vrijthof 24
6211 LD Maastricht

More Math/Maastricht stories