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A general theoretical formalism is developed to assess how base-flow modifications may alter the stability properties of flows studied in a global approach of linear stability theory. It also comprises a systematic approach to the passive control of globally unstable flows by the use of small control devices. This formalism is based on a sensitivity analysis of any global eigenvalue to base-flow modifications. The base-flow modifications investigated are either arbitrary or specific ones induced by a steady force. This leads to a definition of the so-called sensitivity to base-flow modifications and sensitivity to a steady force. These sensitivity analyses are applied to the unstable global modes responsible for the onset of vortex shedding in the wake of a cylinder for Reynolds numbers in the range 47≤Re≤80. First, it is demonstrated how the sensitivity to arbitrary base-flow modifications may be used to identify regions and properties of the base flow that contribute to the onset of vortex shedding. Secondly, the sensitivity to a steady force determines the regions of the flow where a steady force acting on the base flow stabilizes the unstable global modes. Upon modelling the presence of a control device by a steady force acting on the base flow, these predictions are then extensively compared with the experimental results of Strykowski & Sreenivasan (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 218, 1990, p. 71). A physical interpretation of the suppression of vortex shedding by use of a control cylinder is proposed in the light of the sensitivity analysis.
(Received August 13 2007)
(Revised July 23 2008)