LSU Researchers Awarded NSF Grant to Address Optimization in Infrastructure Systems

August 29, 2023 

Amin Kargarian and team group photoBATON ROUGE, LA – A team of LSU researchers from electrical and computer engineering and physics was recently awarded nearly $500,000 from the National Science Foundation for a project to develop quantum computing-inspired algorithms that will address optimization problems appearing in various critical infrastructure systems, including power systems.

Examples of these problems include optimizing power flow, planning for transmission network expansion, diagnosing faults, and ensuring grid resilience. These issues are difficult for classical computers to solve efficiently and oftentimes require a significant amount of time and resources. Quantum computing’s unique ability to handle vast amounts of data simultaneously through quantum bits, or qubits, enables it to explore multiple potential solutions at the same time, potentially leading to exponential speedup in solving complex optimization problems.

Leading the project as principal investigator is Amin Kargarian, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. He is joined by co-principal investigators Ramachandran Vaidyanathan, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Omar Magana-Loaiza, associate professor of physics.

“Power system problems are incredibly important, as they directly impact our daily lives, ensuring a reliable electricity supply for our homes, businesses, and industries,” Kargarian said. “However, these problems, such as optimal power flow and renewable energy integration, are complex and time-consuming for traditional computers to solve efficiently, leading to higher costs and less reliable energy delivery.

“Quantum computing, with its exceptional computational power, offers a promising solution by quickly and accurately addressing these challenges. By leveraging quantum computers, we can achieve faster responses to changing energy demands; reduce operational costs; integrate renewable energy sources more effectively; and ultimately create a more stable, cost-efficient, and environmentally-friendly energy system, benefiting society as a whole.”

Kargarian added that he believes the work done on this project will advance understanding of quantum algorithms for optimization and revolutionize the way researchers approach and solve complex real-world problems in various domains.

It should be added that there is another member of the team, not officially listed on the grant, Kargarian’s Ph.D. student, Reza Mahroo. His technical contributions, Kargarian said, were invaluable in providing preliminary results and innovative ideas for the grant proposal.

One final component of the project involves educational and outreach activities with K-12 and college students. Kargarian said the team envisions several such activities, including partnering with local organizations focused on the success of underserved high school students and partnering with the Louisiana Art & Science Museum to show children concepts of quantum mechanics and physics.

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Contact: Joshua Duplechain
Director of Communications