In this paper we want to describe some examples of the active interaction that takes place at the border of rational approximation theory and linear system theory. These examples are mainly taken from the period 1950-1999 and are described only at a skindeep level in the simplest possible (scalar) case. We give comments on generalizations of these problems and how they opened up new ranges of research that after a while lived their own lives. We also describe some open problems and future work that will probably continue for some years after 2000. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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