Visible to the public CPS: Breakthrough: Collaborative Research: The Interweaving of Humans and Physical Systems: A Perspective From Power SystemsConflict Detection Enabled

Project Details
Lead PI:Ramesh Johari
Performance Period:10/01/15 - 09/30/19
Institution(s):Stanford University
Sponsor(s):National Science Foundation
Award Number:1544548
632 Reads. Placed 355 out of 803 NSF CPS Projects based on total reads on all related artifacts.
Abstract: As information technology has transformed physical systems such as the power grid, the interface between these systems and their human users has become both richer and much more complex. For example, from the perspective of an electricity consumer, a whole host of devices and technologies are transforming how they interact with the grid: demand response programs; electric vehicles; "smart" thermostats and appliances; etc. These novel technologies are also forcing us to rethink how the grid interacts with its users, because critical objectives such as stability and robustness require effective integration among the many diverse users in the grid. This project studies the complex interweaving of humans and physical systems. Traditionally, a separation principle has been used to isolate humans from physical systems. This principle requires users to have preferences that are well-defined, stable, and quickly discoverable. These assumptions are increasingly violated in practice: users' preferences are often not well-defined; unstable over time; and take time to discover. Our project articulates a new framework for interactions between physical systems and their users, where users' preferences must be repeatedly learned over time while the system continually operates with respect to imperfect preference information. We focus on the area of power systems. Our project has three main thrusts. First, user models are rethought to reflect the fact this new dynamic view of user preferences, where even the users are learning over time. The second thrust focuses on developing a new system model that learns about users, since we cannot understand users in a "single-shot"; rather, repeated interaction with the user is required. We then focus on the integration of these two new models. How do we control and operate a physical system, in the presence of the interacting "learning loops", while mediating between many competing users? We apply ideas from mean field games and optimal power flow to capture, analyze, and transform the interaction between the system and the ongoing preference discovery process. Our methods will yield guidance for market design in power systems where user preferences are constantly evolving. If successful, our project will usher in a fundamental change in interfacing physical systems and users. For example, in the power grid, our project directly impacts how utilities design demand response programs; how smart devices learn from users; and how the smart grid operates. In support of this goal, the PIs intend to develop avenues for knowledge transfer through interactions with industry. The PIs will also change their education programs to reflect a greater entanglement between physical systems and users.