Structure learning in power distribution networks

Deepjyoti Deka, Scott Backhaus, Michael Chertkov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


Traditional power distribution networks suffer from a lack of real-time observability. This complicates development and implementation of new smart-grid technologies, such as those related to demand response, outage detection and management, and improved load monitoring. In this paper, inspired by proliferation of metering technology, we discuss topology estimation problems in structurally loopy but operationally radial distribution grids from measurements, for example, voltage data, which are either already available or can be made available with a relatively minor investment. The primary objective of this paper is to learn the operational layout of the grid. Further, the structure learning algorithm is extended to cases with missing data, where available observations are limited to a fraction of the grid nodes. The algorithms are computationally efficient - polynomial in time - which is proven theoretically and illustrated in numerical experiments on a number of test cases. The techniques developed can be applied to detect line failures in real time as well as to understand the scope of possible adversarial attacks on the grid.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7862849
Pages (from-to)1061-1074
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Missing data
  • power distribution networks
  • power flows (PFs)
  • structure/graph learning
  • voltage measurements


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