Selecting decision trees for power system security assessment

Al-Amin B. Bugaje, Jochen L. Cremer, Mingyang Sun, Goran Strbac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
117 Downloads (Pure)


Power systems transport an increasing amount of electricity, and in the future, involve more distributed renewables and dynamic interactions of the equipment. The system response to disturbances must be secure and predictable to avoid power blackouts. The system response can be simulated in the time domain. However, this dynamic security assessment (DSA) is not computationally tractable in real-time. Particularly promising is to train decision trees (DTs) from machine learning as interpretable classifiers to predict whether the system-wide responses to disturbances are secure. In most research, selecting the best DT model focuses on predictive accuracy. However, it is insufficient to focus solely on predictive accuracy. Missed alarms and false alarms have drastically different costs, and as security assessment is a critical task, interpretability is crucial for operators. In this work, the multiple objectives of interpretability, varying costs, and accuracies are considered for DT model selection. We propose a rigorous workflow to select the best classifier. In addition, we present two graphical approaches for visual inspection to illustrate the selection sensitivity to probability and impacts of disturbances. We propose cost curves to inspect selection combining all three objectives for the first time. Case studies on the IEEE 68 bus system and the French system show that the proposed approach allows for better DT-selections, with an 80% increase in interpretability, 5% reduction in expected operating cost, while making almost zero accuracy compromises. The proposed approach scales well with larger systems and can be used for models beyond DTs. Hence, this work provides insights into criteria for model selection in a promising application for methods from artificial intelligence (AI).

Original languageEnglish
Article number100110
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy and AI
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Cost curves
  • Cost sensitivity
  • Decision trees
  • Dynamic security assessment
  • Machine learning
  • ROC curve


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