ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
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VT software technique speeds up development of new analysis apps

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A GA-based integrated system model (ISM) of Staten Island goes from the transmission level down to every customer. The two types of views, geographic and scehmatic are, are concurrently driven by a GA analysis.

Electric utilities, national laboratories, universities, and the department of defense are using a Virginia Tech software technique to quickly develop new analysis applications at low cost.

Geographic view

The technique, called generic analysis (GA), was developed by Robert Broadwater in the 1980s and is becoming more widely used each year. GA can handle models involving millions of components and has been successful analyzing complex systems, including downtown electric supply systems of St. Louis and New York City. Due to the speed of the technique, the entire St. Louis downtown electric supply system solves in about one second.

GA is based on the generic programming paradigm, which places data in containers. In GA, the container corresponds to the system model. All algorithms access data in the container using iterators. In GA, the same algorithm can be used across different types of models, or different algorithms can be applied to the same model.

Scehmatic view

New data and analysis can be attached to the model without affecting any existing functionality. Furthermore, a new analysis function can make use of any existing analysis functions attached to the model. “With GA, algorithms written by different people can collaborate through the model, in the way teams of people collaborate,” he explained.

With GA, he said, personnel throughout a large enterprise can share a common system model across many functions — from planning and design to real-time operation and control. “With GA, the vision is that the model becomes a reusable, maintained unit throughout the life of the plant.”

GA can analyze systems where the system model changes, such as occurs in cascading power failures. Four of the 10 largest U.S. electric utilities are using GA. ECE Ph.D. students Kevin Russell, Lynn Feinauer, and David Kleppinger are solving reconfiguration for restoration problems for cooling water, fire main, and electric power systems on naval ships. ECE’s Kwa-Sur Tam is using GA for an economic analysis of the Detroit Edison electric system. Researchers in civil and environmental engineering are modeling critical infrastructure systems for the U.S. Army, including sewage, gas, and real-time potable water. Georgia Tech and the West Virginia University are using GA modeling, as are several national laboratories and overseas power companies.