Summary: The Center for Control, Dynamical Systems, and Computation
University of California at Santa Barbara
Spring 2009 Seminar Series
How Can Complex System Feedbacks Shape Cascading
Failure Blackout Risk Towards Criticality?
Electrical & Computer Engineering Department
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Friday, April 17, 2009 3:00 - 4:00pm WEBB 1100
What is the risk of large blackouts such as the spectacular cascading blackout in August
2003 that cut electrical power to 50 million North Americans? Historical data show that
large blackouts, although rare, occur more frequently than expected. Indeed the empirical
complex systems near criticality. Large blackouts are usually caused by a sequence of
cascading failures in which dependent failures successively weaken the power network.
We discuss criticality and power laws in probabilistic and power network simulation
models of cascading failure. Why would a power network be designed and operated
near a critical loading? We propose that economic and engineering feedbacks could