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Complex Systems Dynamics of Blackouts and Transmission Systems Upgrades

Society is evolving towards an economic and social system in which interconnected infrastructure systems such as communications, power and distribution networks form the backbone of the fast evolving system. Therefore vulnerability of these systems is a vulnerability of society as a whole. Each of these systems is complex in its own right, but the interconnectedness of the systems makes them even more so. These complex systems are intrinsically susceptible to large cascading failures such as the recent Northeast blackout however. Understanding the dynamics and vulnerabilities of these coupled systems is of increasing importance as their interdependence.

The objectives of this research effort are the following:

  1. Building on our previous work on the complex system dynamics of the power transmission networks and communication networks separately, we will investigate the dynamics of these systems interconnected with a dynamic human response model.

  2. ​A hierarchy of simple models to represent the key reaction/decision making dynamics identified in the observations of the real systems will be developed and coupled to the complex engineering systems.

  3. ​Analysis tools to quantify and predict regimes of behavior will be developed

This research is supported by NSF and is done in collaboration with:David Newman and Kara Nance, University of Alaska, FairbanksIan Dobson, University Wisconsin, Madison.

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