IEEE Transactions on Power Apparatus and Systems, Vol. PAS104, No. 5, May 1985
NETWORK OBSERVABILITY: THEORY
A. Monticelli
Felix F. Wu
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences
and the Electronics Research Laboratory
University of California, Berkeley CA 94720
I. INTRODUCTION
State estimation processes a set of redundant measurements to
estimate the state of the power system. The result of state estimation
forms the basis for all realtime security analysis functions in a power
control center [1]. There are three types of realtime measurements.
(i) The analog measurements that include bus voltage magnitudes, real
and reactive power injections, and real and reactive power flows. (ii)
The logic measurements which consist of the status of switches and
breakers. (iii) The pseudomeasurements that may include forecasted
bus loads and generations and zeroinjections in passive nodes. Analog
and logic measurements are telemetered to the control center. Logic
measurements are used in Topology Processor to determine the system
configuration. The State Estimator uses a set of analog measurements,
along with the system configuration supplied by the topology processor,
network parameters such as line impedances, and perhaps some
pseudomeasurements as its input. If the set of measurements is
sufficient in number an welldistributed geographically, the state estimator will give an estimate of the system state. When there is enough
redundancy in measurements, the state estimator will be able to process
bad data [2].
In the design stage, the following questions concerning the measurement set arise naturally.
(1) Are there sufficient measurements to make state estimation possible?
(2) If not, where additional meters should be placed so that state estimation is possible?
If the set of measurements is sufficient to make state estimation possible, we say the network is observable. Observability depends on the
number of measurements available and their geographic distribution.
The first question raised here is concerned with the test of
observability. The second question is meter or measurement placement
for observability.
Usually a system is designed to be observable for most operating
conditions. Temporary unobservability may still occur due to unanticipated network topology changes or failures in the telecommunication
systems. The following questions emerge naturally in conjunction with
state estimation in system operation.
P., Brazil.
84 SMI 5815
A paper recommended and approved
by the IEEE Power System Engineering Committee ofthe IEEE Power Engineering Society for presentation
at the IEEE/PES 1984 Summer Meeting, Seattle,
Washington, July 15
20, 1984. Manuscript submitted February 2, 1984; made available for printing
June 6, 1984.

(1) Are there enough realtime measurements to make state estimation possible?
(2) If not, which part or parts of the network whose states can still be
estimated with the available measurements?
(3) How to estimate the states of these observable islands?
(4) How to select additional pseudomeasurements to be included in
the measurement set to make state estimation possible?
(5) How to guarantee that the inclusion of the additional pseudomeasurements will not contaminate the result of the state estimation?
The analysis which lead to the answers to these questions may be called
observability analysis. The analysis includes observability test,
identification of observability islands, and measurement plicenient. It
should be performed prior to the state estimation. In practice most of
the time the system is observable. The observability analysis becomes
valuable only in those rare situations when the system becomes unobservable.
In this paper a complete theory of network observability is
developed, which provides a theoretical foundation for the answers to
all the questions raised above. A number of basic facts are derived.
Based on these facts, algorithms can be developed for
testing observability
identification of observable islands
* measurement placement for observability.
*
*
vector are
z =
h(x) +
00189510/85/00051042$01.001985 IEEE
(1)
1043
where z is the (mxl) measurement vector, h() is the (mxl) vector of
nonlinear functions, x is the (2nxl) true state vector, w is the (mxl)
measurement error vector, m is the number of measurements, and n is
the number of buses.
The estimate of the unknown state vector x is designated byx and
is obtained by minimizing the weighted least squares function
(2)
where W is a diagonal (mxm) matrix whose elements are the measurement weighting factors.
The condition for optimality is that the gradient of J vanishes at
the optimal solution x i.e.,
H T (x)W[zh(x)] = 0
(3)
{i= 0,k; 0 k =
Ui
(12)
where V is is a (nxl) vector whose elements are the bus voltage magnitudes, and 0 is the (nxl) vector whose elements are the bus voltage
angles, including the angular reference (or angular references).
The Jacobian matrix is
HpQ (x)
(4)
Ox
GPQ(Xk)8Xk = HJQ(Xk)W(Zh(Xk))
Xk+
Xk +
8Xk
(5)
(6)
(7)
GpQ
where
T W HPQ=m [xhik
HPQ
W [ Oh1i
i
weighting factor associated with measured zi. The above equation suggests that in forming the gain matrix one can process the measurement
one at a time.
2. Decoupling
Equation (1) can be rewritten as
hp(x)
+ wp
(8)
zQ = hQ(x) + WQ
(9)
Zp =
where zp is the
(U,K,E)
HpQ 
ah
ax
(13)
Qr
QV
where
HQV OhQ/QV.
and
=
By applying the decoupling principle to the matrix
obtain the decoupled gain matrix
HpQ,
we
Ge
GPQ =
OG
(14)
II
GV
where
Go =
HTWPHpH
(15)
Gv=
HQvWQHQV
(16)
Go0=HPh Wpzp
(17)
C HO
(18)
1044
Equation (17) becomes
HTHO
HTC
(19)
Xi
with the fact whether the flow is zero or not, not the actual numerical
value of the flow when it is nonzero. Therefore for simplicity let us set
xi= 1 and call the "flow" to be the same as the angle difference
8i = CkOm. Using the (unreduced) network incidence matrix A the
set of "flows," 8, can be written as
8 = ATE
(20)
Thus,
(26)
81=
0.
(21)
On the other hand, given the state vector 0, the set of measurements is
written as
0= HO
(22)
For the real power model there are two types of measurements
(i) line flow. If measurement i is the line flow from bus k to bus m,
then
k
h.
m
h.
(23)
(i= 1hz
rm
hm
h
(24)
(a) => (ii). Let H be obtained from H by deleting the kth column h.
Suppose HO = 0. Let 0 = (,0). We thus must have 0 = 0, which
says H is of full rank.
fii) => (a). Since the column sum of H is always zero, i.e.,
HI = h. Thus (HjTjj)1fjTi= 1. Now suppose HO = 0 or
HO+hOk = 0. Then 0 =(H HT)l HT0k = lOk.
(ii) <=# (iii). Let H = (H,h), we have
G= HTH= THH
[hTR
where S = hm + hn +
hi.
hThJ
For the reactive power model there is an additional type of measurement, which is the voltagemagnitude measurement. The
corresponding one in the real power model would be the voltageangle
measurement. Even though the voltage angle measurement is not
available in real life, it is still helpful to include this in the consideration. Later in the paper we will show that a key result in our theory of
network observability may be interpreted as adding 0pseudo measurements.
jThi
(25)
Comments
1) Statement (ii) of Theorem 1 relates the intuitive concept of
observability to the solvability (existence of a unique solution) of
the state estimation problem. As a matter of fact, the solvability
of state estimation has been used as the definition of observability
in the literature. To see the relation, note that H is of full rank if
and only if (HTf) is nonsingular, this is exactly the condition
that is needed for the state estimator (19) to have a unique solution. Thus Theorem 1 implies that a network is observable if and
only if the state estimation problem can be solved with a unique
solution.
1045
2)
3)
(29)
Proof. Let H =
HO = 0.
0.
(9a
G = HTH =
(30)
(27)
where
For any arbitrary O,, for example, Ob = (0,1,2,...) T, solving the upper
half of the above equation (27) yields a Oa) then (0a,O,,) is an unobservable state.
An alternative way to obtain the same unobservable state (Oa,Ob)
is (i) replacing the diagonal elements of the lower right matrix by 1's,
and (ii) replacing the corresponding righthand side of (27) by
(0,1,...) T, (iii) solving the resulting equation
q=
h2Th2h2TH1(H/THI)1H/Th2
(31)
(32)
ea
h2Th2h2THI(H/TH1)lHITh2= 0
if and only if
(28)
By substituting h2
Note that (28) is identical to the state estimation equation (19) with
the pseudomeasurements of the voltage angles at buses corresponding
to Ob present and all other measurements set to zero. This important
observation will be used again.
Triangular factorization with complete pivoting involves permutation of rows and columns of G and the corresponding reordering of the
vector 0. Since for the solution of large systems by triangular factorization, the ordering of the matrix is done based on sparsity considerations, it is desirable not to have two different orderings. Theorem 2
below shows that the reordering for complete pivoting above is actually
not necessary for observability test for obtaining an unobservable state.
This result greatly simplifies computation.
Theorem 2. In the triangular factorization of the gain matrix G, if a
zero pivot is encountered, then the remaining row and column are all
zeros, i.e., G is reduced to the form:
(HI h2)
[H/TH
TH
are
h2T
(33)
h/h2
1046
Comment. The implication of Theorem 2 is that for any given ordering
of the gain matrix G whenever a zero pivot is encountered in the
process of triangular factorization, the corresponding 0 belongs to 0b
and it can be assigned an arbitrary value in obtaining an unobservable
state. Or equivalently, one adds a 0pseduomeasurement for that
node. In other words, the zero pivot in G is replaced by a 1, and the
corresponding righthand side 0 is replaced by the value assigned to the
0pseudomeasurement. The triangular factorization may then continue. A network is observable if and only if there is only one zero
pivot, which necessarily happens at the end, whereas when the network
is not observable one encounters more than one zero pivots in the triangular factorization of G.
V. IDENTIFICATION OF OBSERVABLE ISLANDS
When the network is not observable, we would like to know
which part or parts of the network whose states can be estimated by
processing the available measurements. These subnetworks will be
called observable islands. Two questions are answered in this section:
(a) How to identify the observable islands.
(b) How to estimate the states of the observable islands.
We start from a given unobservable state 0 obtained from the
solution of GO = 0. Let us arrange 0 so that the components having
identical values are grouped together. For example, suppose there are
three groups of values Oa, HP,0. in 0, we have 0 = (0a,"p,0y) where
O= (Oa,O,a,..Ga)5 etc. Subnetwork a consists of nodes in Ga
together with the branches connecting them. Similarly for subnetworks
,8 and y.
Let us further group together (i) line flow measurements for lines
in the same subnetwork, and (ii) injection measurements for which all
the nodes connected to the injection node belong to the same subnetwork. It can easily be shown that it is impossible to have line flow
measurements for lines connecting different subnetworks, for if this
were true the 0 values for these two components would have to be the
same. Therefore, the remaining measurements are (iii) those injections
for which the nodes connected to it belong to different subnetworks.
According to this grouping the matrix H becomes (rearrange rows): .
rytt
0.
Ha,Hg,
(36)
Suppose that the measurement set consists of the 1pseudomeasurements O' introduced in (28), and all other measurements equal
to zero. Then the residuals r = 0.
0
1.
(34)
1
mQ
Os mQ+l
.
The rows of Ha, Hp, and H. correspond to the measurements (i) and
(ii) of subnetworks a, /3, and y respectively, and the rows of Hap,P
correspond to the measurements (iii). Also if we group branches in the
same network together, AT becomes:
I'
2
regul ar
measurements
0pseudo
(37)
measurements
voltage angle
at other nodes
Oat
[S
*a is a solution of
0=
as
(35)
nQ.
n)+l
n
(38)
voltage angle at
nodes with 0pseudo
measurements
Accordingly, the gain matrix and the Jacobian matrix can be partitioned
as follows:
where A,, Ap, and A., correspond to the branches in the subnetworks
a, /, and y, respectively, and AaB correspond to the branches connecting different components. In other words, the rows of Aa#v,,
correspond to the set of unobservable branches.
1047
*
would the additional measurements contaminate the state estimation of the observable islands?
Theorem 5 below can be proved mathematically. Due to space
limitation the proof is omitted here.
H*a
Hr
mQ
mQ+l
H=
I.
HTH
rr
HTrtt
0)
.HTHIir
1.
nQ
nk+l
n
where
A
=0
Go = HTC
O=
(HjTHrHHaOS
#4
we
get:
rt
(44)
(45)
=es
(46)
[ Hr(HrTHr)IHrTHa + HJIs

rS =0
Now consider
Theorem 5. If a minimal set of additional nonredundant (pseudo)measurements is so selected that they make the network barely observable, then the estimated states of the already observable islands will not
be affected by these pseudomeasurements.
It is clear that the candidates for these additional measurements
are (i) injection pseudomeasurements for which the nodes it is connected to belong to different observable islands, and (ii) line flow
pseudomeasurements for lines connecting different observable islands.
The second type of pseudomeasurements are seldom available. We
shall concentrate on the first type.
This set of pseudomeasurements may be obtained sequentially by
adding a pseudomeasurement from the candidate list one at a time.
The additional pseudomeasurement will make some unobservable
branches observable, thus coalescing observable islands into larger
ones. Computationally this selection process can be accomplished by a
scheme which adds a pseudomeasurement from the candidate list and
then recalculates the observable islands at each iteration until the whole
network becomes one observable island.
VII. CONCLUSION
A complete theory of network observability is presented. The
major points are summarized below:
* A network is said to be observable if, whenever there is any
nonzero flow in the network, at least one of the measurement
shuld read nonzero. In other words, a network is observable
when, all measurements are zero implies that all flows are zero.
* A network is observable if and only if the state estimation can be
solved with a unique solution.
* An observability test can be performed based on the triangular
factorization of the gain matrix. It goes as follows. In carrying
out triangular factorization of the gain matrix G. whenever a zero
pivot is encountered, we add a 0pseudomeasurement for the
corresponding node, the effect of that is that the 0 is replaced by a
I in the triangular factor. The network is observable if only one
iero pivot is encountered in the process and not observable if
more than one zero pivots are encountered.
* By setting the 0pseudomeasurements of the nodes of zero pivots
to different values and all the other measurements to zero, the
solution of the state estimation equations yields an unobservable
state of the system.
* Consider the subnetwork formed by the set of nodes having
identical value in the unobservable state, together with the
branches connecting them. For the measurement set, consider
the line flow measurements for which all the nodes connected to
the injection node belong to the same subnetwork. This subnetwork along with the measurement set is a candidate for an observable island.
*
Branches between two candidates of observable islands are unobservable branches.
*
Those injection measurements for which there is an unobservable
branch connected to the injection, are irrelevant as far as observability of the network is concerned and may be discarded for the
purpose of identifying observable islands.
*
Using the relevant measures and the 0pseudomeasurements, the
states of the observable islands may be estimated. The 0pseudomeasurements do not affect the state estimation results on line
flows.
*
If a minimal set of additional nonredundant (pseudo)
measurements is so selected that they make the network barely
observable, then the esitmated states of the already observable
islands will not be affected by these pseudomeasurements.

(47)
we
obtainlkrll = 0. Hence r
on
1048
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Research sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute,
Power System Planning and Operations Program, under contract RP
19996.
REFERENCES
[1]
[21
[3]
[4]
[5]
[6]
[7]
Discussion
F. L. Alvarado (University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI): This work is
important, comprehensive and well presented and is bound to become
an important reference. A few years ago, Fetzer and Anderson [Al]
presented a paper on dynamic observability. The static case of [Al]
resulted in not only topological but quantitative measures of degree of
observability of a system with a given set of measurements, and was based
on a HHT matrix much like the gain matrix G. Can the authors comment on the relationship (if any) between the two papers?
REFERENCE
[8] G. R. Krumpholz, K. A. Clements, and P. W. Davis, "Power System Observability: A Practical Algorithm Using Network Topology," IEEE Trans. Power Apparatus and Systems, vol. 99, pp.
15341542, July/Aug. 1980.
[9] K. A. Clements, G. R. Krumpholz and P. W. Davis, "Power System State Estimation Residual Analysis: An Algorithm Using Network Topology," IEEE Trans. Power Apparatus and Systems, vol.
100, no. 4, pp. 17791787, April 1981.
[10] K. A. Clements, G. R. Krumpholz and P. W. Davis, "Power System State Estimation with Measurement Deficiency: An Algorithm that Determines the Maximal Observable Subnetwork,"
IEEE Trans. Power Apparatus and Systems, vol. 101, no. 9, pp.
30443052, September 1982.
[11] K. A. Clements, G. R. Krumpholz and P. W. Davis, "Power System State Estimation with Measurement Deficiency: An
Observability/Measurement Placement Algorithm," IEEE Trans.
Power Apparatus and Systems, vol. PAS102, pp. 20122020, July
1983.
Press, 1973.
to
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