Optimizing the topology of complex infrastructure systems can minimize the impact of cascading failures due to an initiating failure event. This paper presents a novel approach for the concept-stage design of complex infrastructure systems by integrating model-based design with network analysis to increase system robustness. This approach focuses on system performance after cascading has occurred, and examines design trade-offs of the resultant (or degraded) system state. In this research, robustness is defined as the invariability of system performance due to uncertain failure events. Where a robust network has the ability to meet minimum performance requirements despite the impact of cascading failures. This research is motivated by catastrophic complex infrastructure system failures such as the August 13th Blackout of 2003, highlighting the vulnerability of systems such as the North American Power Grid (NAPG). A mathematical model was developed using an adjacency matrix, where removing a network connection simulates uncertain failure events. Performance degradation is iteratively calculated as failures cascade throughout the system, and robustness is measured by the lack of performance variability over multiple cascading failure scenarios. Two case studies are provided: an extrapolated IEEE 14 test bus, and the Oregon State University campus power network. The overarching goal of this research is to understand key system design trade-offs between robustness, performance objectives, and cost. In addition, optimizing network topologies to mitigate performance loss during concept-stage design will enable system robustness.

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