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Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Failure Repair Sequence Generation for Nodal Network", for Approval

August 5, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors NOF, Shimon Y. (Lafayette, IN); CHEN, Xin (Glen Carbon, IL), filed on January 16, 2014, was made available online on July 24, 2014.

The patent's assignee is Purdue Research Foundation.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Faults (or failures) are unavoidable in complex systems such as supply chains, power grids, and healthcare systems. Faults have major cost implications and can cause catastrophic events. For instance, the annual cost of power interruptions in the U.S. is estimated between $22 and $135 billion. See LaCommare, K. H. and Eto, J. H., 2004, Understanding the Cost of Power Interruptions to U.S. Electricity Consumers, Energy Analysis Department, Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, Calif. 94720. A healthcare insurance company covering 10 million members is estimated to pay $400 million a year in overpayments due to unintentional (mistakes made by patients, providers, and insurance companies) and intentional errors (fraudulent claims). See Anand, A., 2008, 'A data mining framework for identifying claim overpayments for the health insurance industry,' in Proc. of the 3.sup.rd INFORMS Workshop on Data Mining and Health Informatics.

"Most faults in a system are caused by a few faulty sources which require repair. These faulty sources can cause other downstream faults to subsystems that are dependent upon the faulty sources. Accordingly, these downstream faults are repaired once the faulty sources are repaired. For instance, products flow from supplier A downstream to customer B in a supply chain. A fault occurs if B does not receive certain products by a predetermined time. The fault at B, however, often is caused by faults at A or faults at other manufacturing or distribution entities along the path from A to B. The fault at B, therefore, is repaired after any fault at A and the other faulty entities are repaired. Similarly, a fault occurs in an electrical power grid if a bus (transmission path) cannot provide electricity to a customer. If the bus itself is damaged, and has, consequently, caused damage to downstream electrical components, the bus is repaired before repairing the damaged downstream electrical components.

"Although the issue of how to prevent and repair failures (or faults) with an optimal sequence is an important issue in the art, it, conventionally, has largely been left open. See Ang, C. C., 2006, Optimized Recovery of Damaged Electrical Power Grids, M. S. Thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif., USA. Accordingly, a need in the art exists for techniques to generate improved failure (or fault) prevention and repair ('FPR') sequences."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "The above-described need is addressed and a technical solution is achieved in the art by failure repair sequence generation systems and methods according to various embodiments of the present invention.

"According to some embodiments, a failure repair sequence generation system includes a data processing device system and a memory device system communicatively connected to the data processing device system. The memory device system may store a program executable by the data processing device system, as well as network information indicating at least a network topology including a plurality of nodes. The plurality of nodes may include a plurality of root nodes and a plurality of leaf nodes, each leaf node may be connected directly or indirectly to at least one root node of the plurality of root nodes. A subset of the plurality of root nodes may be indicated by the network information as experiencing or about to experience failure, and a subset of the plurality of leaf nodes may be indicated by the network information as experiencing or about to experience failure.

"The data processing device system may be configured by the program at least to acquire, from the memory device system, the network information; generate a failure repair sequence based at least upon an analysis of at least a portion of the network information; and store the generated failure repair sequence in the memory device system. The failure repair sequence may indicate a sequence of node sets in which the node sets should be repaired. Each node set may include a node of the plurality of nodes.

"The analysis may include one or both of at least two sub-analyses. The first sub-analysis may include identifying a damage-priority-repair root node of the subset of the plurality of root nodes indicated as experiencing failure that has a greatest number of leaf nodes of the subset of the plurality of leaf nodes indicated as experiencing failure as compared to at least some other root nodes of the subset of the plurality of root nodes besides the damage-priority-repair root node. The first sub-analysis may also include assigning the identified damage-priority-repair root node a damage-priority-repair position in the sequence as compared to the at least some other root nodes of the subset of the plurality of root nodes besides the damage-priority-repair root node. The damage-priority-repair position may be a position in the sequence that indicates that the identified damage-priority-repair root node should be repaired with a higher priority than the at least some other root nodes of the subset of the plurality of root nodes besides the damage-priority-repair root node. In this regard, the first sub-analysis may be suitable for minimizing or otherwise reducing damage caused by node failures.

"The second sub-analysis may include identifying a preventability-priority-repair root node of the subset of the plurality of root nodes indicated as experiencing or about to experience failure that has a connected leaf node of the plurality of leaf nodes that (i) is not indicated as experiencing failure and (ii) is connected to a fewest number of root nodes as compared to at least some other leaf nodes of the plurality of leaf nodes not indicated as experiencing or about to experience failure. The second sub-analysis may also include assigning the identified preventability-priority-repair root node a preventability-priority-repair position in the sequence as compared to at least some other root nodes of the subset of the plurality of root nodes besides the preventability-priority-repair root node. The preventability-priority-repair position may be a position in the sequence that indicates that the identified preventability-priority-repair root node should be repaired with a higher priority than the at least some other root nodes of the subset of the plurality of root nodes besides the preventability-priority-repair root node. In this regard, the second sub-analysis may be suitable for maximizing or otherwise improving the preventability of future failures.

"In some embodiments, the memory device system stores repair resource information indicating at least resources available for node repair. In this regard, the data processing device system may be further configured by the program at least to generate a plurality of failure repair sequences including the generated failure repair sequence; and generate a lower-bound-performance sequence based at least upon an analysis of the network information. The lower-bound-performance sequence may represent a repair sequence having a repair duration defined as a lower-bound threshold. The data processing device system may be further configured by the program at least to generate an upper-bound-performance sequence based at least upon an analysis of the network information. The upper-bound-performance sequence may represent a repair sequence having a repair duration shorter than the repair duration of the repair sequence represented by the lower-bound-performance sequence and defined as an upper-bound threshold.

"Further in this regard, the data processing device system may be configured by the program at least to determine a performance for each of the plurality of generated failure repair sequences based at least upon an analysis of the repair resource information with respect to the respective generated failure repair sequence. The data processing device system may be configured by the program at least to determine whether each of the plurality of generated failure repair sequences has acceptable performance or unacceptable performance based at least upon an analysis of the determined performance of the respective generated failure repair sequence and the upper-bound threshold and the lower-bound threshold. And, the data processing device system may be configured by the program at least to record in the memory device system at least one or more changes at least in response to the determining of one or more of the generated failure repair sequences as having unacceptable performance.

"In some embodiments, the data processing device system may be configured by the program at least to determine whether to perform the first sub-analysis, the second sub-analysis, or both the first sub-analysis and the second sub-analysis based at least upon a preliminary analysis of the network topology indicated by the network information. In this regard, some network topologies may be better suited for the first sub-analysis, the second sub-analysis, or a combination of the first sub-analysis and the second sub-analysis.

"In this regard, the network topology may include low-level internal nodes, each directly connected to at least one leaf node of the plurality of leaf nodes, and the preliminary analysis may be configured to lead to a determination of performing the second sub-analysis in response to a determination that each of the low-level internal nodes is directly connected to a same or substantially a same number of leaf nodes as compared to others of the low-level internal nodes. On the other hand, the preliminary analysis may be configured to lead to a determination of performing the first sub-analysis in response to a determination that each of the plurality of leaf nodes is connected to a same or substantially a same number of different root nodes as compared to others of the leaf nodes.

"In some embodiments, the data processing device system is configured by the program at least to perform the first sub-analysis followed by the second sub-analysis or vice versa. For example, the data processing device system is configured by the program at least to generate at least a portion of the failure repair sequence at least by preliminarily generating a first sequence based at least upon repeatedly performing the second sub-analysis. The first sequence may include a sequence of groups of nodes indicating an order in which the groups of nodes should be repaired. In addition, the data processing device system may be configured by the program at least to generate at least a portion of the failure repair sequence at least by generating an intra-group sequence for each of the plurality of groups of root nodes based at least upon repeatedly performing the first sub-analysis. Each intra-group sequence may be a sequence of root nodes indicating an order in which the root nodes in each respective group should be repaired. The failure repair sequence may represent at least the sequence of groups of root nodes of the first sequence with each group having its respective intra-group sequence of root nodes.

"In some embodiments, the data processing device system is configured by the program at least to generate at least a portion of the failure repair sequence at least by identifying, based at least upon performance of at least a portion of the first sub-analysis, at least two root nodes having a same greatest number of leaf nodes of the subset of the plurality of leaf nodes indicated as experiencing or about to experience failure as compared to at least some other root nodes of the subset of the plurality of root nodes besides the at least two root nodes. The at least two root nodes may be considered to form a group of root nodes. In addition, the data processing device system may be configured by the program at least to generate an intra-group sequence for the group of root nodes based at least upon performing at least a portion of the second sub-analysis. The intra-group sequence may be a sequence of the at least two root nodes indicating an order in which the at least two root nodes should be repaired. In this regard, the failure repair sequence may represent at least the intra-group sequence.

"According to some embodiments, the memory device system stores repair resource information indicating at least resources available for node repair, and the data processing device system is further configured by the program at least to: receive an indication of acceptable repair performance; and generate the failure repair sequence to meet the acceptable repair performance while minimizing or otherwise reducing use of the resources available for node repair.

"In some embodiments, the program comprises instructions configured to cause a data processing device system to perform according to any of the configurations described above in this Summary or otherwise herein. In some embodiments, the program is stored by a non-transitory computer-readable storage medium system including one or more non-transitory computer-readable storage mediums and is executable by one or more data processing devices of a data processing device system.

"In addition, the above-described configurations or any other configuration or activity described herein may be executed as part of one or more failure repair sequence generation methods.

"Various systems and various methods may include combinations and subsets of all those summarized above.

"In addition to the embodiments described above, further embodiments will become apparent by reference to the drawings and by study of the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"The present invention will be more readily understood from the detailed description of preferred embodiments presented below considered in conjunction with the attached drawings, of which:

"FIG. 1 illustrates a failure prevention and repair ('FPR') system according to some embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 2 illustrates a method or workflow that the FPR sequence generation system of FIG. 1 is configured to execute, for example, by a program stored in the processor-accessible memory device system of FIG. 10, according to some embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 3 illustrates an exploded view of step 202 in FIG. 2, according to some embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 4 illustrates an exploded view of step 204 in FIG. 2, according to some embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 5 illustrates an exploded view of step 206 in FIG. 2, according to some embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 6 illustrates a simplified fault network, according to some embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 7 illustrates an example of upper and lower repair sequence performance bounds, according to some embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 8 illustrates an exploded view of step 208 in FIG. 2, according to some embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 9(a) illustrates a system-level nodal network ('system network'), according to some embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 9(b) illustrates a fault network of seven faulty nodes in the system network depicted in FIG. 9(a), according to some embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 9 illustrates that each node in a nodal network may be considered a root node, an internal node, or a leaf node, according to some embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 10 illustrates a system for generating one or more failure repair sequences, according to some embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 11 illustrates a fault network comprised of two disconnected components, each component having one root node, according to some embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 12 illustrates a fault network comprised of two disconnected components, each component having one leaf node, according to some embodiments of the present invention; and

"FIG. 13 illustrates a performance comparison between a generated failure repair sequence and lower and upper performance bounds, according to some embodiments of the present invention.

"It is to be understood that the attached drawings are for purposes of illustrating the concepts of the invention and may not be to scale."

For additional information on this patent application, see: NOF, Shimon Y.; CHEN, Xin. Failure Repair Sequence Generation for Nodal Network. Filed January 16, 2014 and posted July 24, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=3248&p=65&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140717.PD.&OS=PD/20140717&RS=PD/20140717

Keywords for this news article include: Legal Issues, Information Technology, Purdue Research Foundation, Information and Data Mining, Information and Data Processing.

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