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Engineering the optimal power grid

The modern “smart” city, says Jie Liu, is a web of networks that should run like a healthy, well-tuned circulatory system.

This is especially true, says Liu, a Lehigh Ph.D. candidate in industrial engineering, for the power grid, which directs electricity from power stations to consumers. Electric power should flow through the grid in a way that utilizes as efficiently as possible the resources that are used to produce the power.

This streamlined flow, says Liu, is made possible by machines that process large quantities of data in real time and make optimal decisions.

Liu and his colleagues, Martin Takáč, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering and Liu’s Ph.D. adviser, and Jakub Mareček of IBM Research, have made considerable progress in solving optimal power flow problems in the past two years.

For his contributions, Liu recently received IBM’s Ph.D. Fellowship Award, one of the industry’s most competitive sources of funding for Ph.D. students.

The first in a series of papers by the group, “Hybrid Methods in Solving Alternating-Current Optimal Power Flows,” has just been accepted in IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid. That article is coauthored with Alan Liddell of the University of Notre Dame. It can also be viewed here.

Liu enrolled at Lehigh in 2013 after completing his M.S. in mathematics from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He holds a B.S. in mathematics from Nankai University in Tianjin, China.

Prior to receiving the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship, Liu received the Dean’s Doctoral Assistantship and Dean’s Fellowship from Lehigh’s P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, the Gotshall Fellowship from Lehigh, and the American Express Machine Learning Contest Award.

At Lehigh, Liu is part of a research group called Optimization and Machine Learning (OptML), which includes Takáč; Katya Scheinberg, the Harvey E. Wagner Endowed Chair Professor of industrial and systems engineering; and Frank Curtis, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering.

Read the full story at the Lehigh University News Center.

-Kurt Pfitzer is an Editor and Writer with Lehigh University's Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

July 14, 2017

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