Towards a Realistic Model for Failure Propagation in Interdependent Networks


Modern networks are becoming increasingly interdependent. As a prominent example, the smart grid is an electrical grid controlled through a communications network, which in turn is powered by the electrical grid. Such interdependencies create new vulnerabilities and make these networks more susceptible to failures. In particular, failures can easily spread across these networks due to their interdependencies, possibly causing cascade effects with a devastating impact on their functionalities. In this paper we focus on the interdependence between the power grid and the communications network, and propose a novel realistic model, HINT (Heterogeneous Interdependent NeTworks), to study the evolution of cascading failures. Our model takes into account the heterogeneity of such networks as well as their complex interdependencies. We compare HINT with previously proposed models both on synthetic and real network topologies. Experimental results show that existing models oversimplify the failure evolution and network functionality requirements, resulting in severe underestimations of the cascading failures.

Meeting Name

2016 International Conference on Computing, Networking and Communications, ICNC 2016 (2016: Feb. 15-18, Kauai, HI)


Computer Science

Research Center/Lab(s)

Intelligent Systems Center


This work is partially supported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency grant HDTRA1-10-1-0085 and by the NSF grant CNS-1545037. Mauro Conti is supported by a Marie Curie Fellowship funded by the European Commission under the agreement No. PCIG11-GA-2012-321980.

Keywords and Phrases

Electric power transmission networks; Outages; Smart power grids; Cascade effects; Cascading failures; Communications networks; Electrical grids; Failure evolution; Failure propagation; Network functionality; Realistic model; Complex networks

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2016 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Feb 2016