State space models are essential in the fields of control engineering, econometrics, and time series analysis. They provide a structured way to model the dynamic behavior of a system as a set of input, output, and state variables. These models are comprised of two main equations: the state equation, which describes how the current state of the system evolves into the next state, influenced by inputs and a stochastic process; and the observation equation, which relates the observed data to the state of the system, often with some noise. This framework is particularly powerful for designing controllers in engineering, forecasting in economics, and filtering signals from noisy data.

Historical Overview: The concept of state space models originated in the engineering disciplines during the 1960s. They became a cornerstone method in control theory and signal processing, particularly after Kalman published his famous paper on what is now known as the Kalman Filter in 1960, which provided a recursive solution to the discrete-data linear filtering problem.

Key Contributors: Rudolf E. Kalman is one of the most notable figures associated with the development of state space models, especially for his work on the Kalman Filter. His contributions laid the groundwork for the extensive use of these models in various scientific and engineering applications. Additionally, researchers in econometrics and statistics have further developed and adapted these models for use in financial and economic forecasting.