Combinatorial Problems Arising in Deregulated Electrical Power Industry: Survey and Future Directions

  • Doug Cook
  • Gregory Hicks
  • Vance Faber
  • Madhav V. Marathe
  • Aravind Srinivasan
  • Yoram J. Sussmann
  • Heidi Thornquist
Part of the Nonconvex Optimization and Its Applications book series (NOIA, volume 42)


We study the complexity of various combinatorial problems arising in the context of production and transmission of electric power. The problems studied here are motivated by the recent shift towards deregulating the electric power industry. These problems are natural NP-hard generalizations of the single (multi)-commodity flow problems. A prototypical problem arising in this context a network with fixed link capacities that may have to service large demands when necessary. In particular, individual demands are allowed to exceed capacities, and thus flows for some request pairs necessarily have to be split into different flow-paths.

We summarize our easiness and hardness results obtained in [13, 14]. Broad conclusions of our work include:
  1. 1.

    providing mathematical justification for selecting one policy over another (solely on the basis of computational complexity)

  2. 2.

    demonstrating that the problems at hand much harder than the traditional problems of optimal scheduling and

  3. 3.

    providing preliminary experimental evidence that simple heuristics are attractive candidates for solving the problems near optimally.


We conclude with a brief description of our current research work and directions for future research.


Succinct Specifications Computational Complexity Efficient and Non-Efficient Approximability. 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Doug Cook
    • 1
  • Gregory Hicks
    • 2
  • Vance Faber
    • 3
  • Madhav V. Marathe
    • 3
  • Aravind Srinivasan
    • 4
  • Yoram J. Sussmann
    • 5
  • Heidi Thornquist
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of EngineeringColorado School of MinesGoldenUSA
  2. 2.Department of MathematicsNorth Carolina State UniversityResearch Triangle ParkUSA
  3. 3.Los Alamos National LaboratoryLos AlamosUSA
  4. 4.Lucent TechnologiesMurray HillUSA
  5. 5.FundTech CorporationAtlantaUSA
  6. 6.Department of CAAMRice UniversityHoustonUSA

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