Development of an analysis program and a simulator for a company

My name is Bernardo Amaral and I am currently taking my Master degree in Mathematics, specialization in Applied Analysis and Computation with the ECMI’s model in Tecnomathematics at the University of Coimbra.

I chose this route because I found interesting the requirements of spending one semester abroad and also the participation in a one week project together with people from around Europe. This gave me the opportunity to visit other universities and countries, in my case the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Poland, and the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Bulgaria, meet new people and broaden my horizons.

This year, the thesis year, I was invited to do an internship at EDP Distribuição. EDP Distribuição is a distribution system operator and the main explorer of the electric power in high, medium and low voltage in mainland Portugal. This company has been implementing the InovGrid Project, the goal of which is to create a smart grid, where smart meters can automatize the electric power management, thus increasing the service quality while environmental sustainability grows.

Since this is an ongoing project, the company is still analysing the factors that influence the efficiency of the smart grid. So, they proposed me two challenges: the first one was to create a program that could study the smart grid and identify aspects which can affect its efficiency. The second one, was to develop a simulator that enables the user to perform tests on a smart grid.

Before I started developing the programs, I had to study the smart grid and its different components. Since the information needed was in the company database, I had to write an SQL code to extract that information.

Afterwards I implemented a program in R with a graphic interface, to be used by anyone in the company in the future. It works as follows:

First, the user chooses the file to study. The program checks whether the request is valid and then proceeds to the main window.

With the program it is possible to: see a summary of the file, change and analyse the data without modifying the original file, as well as to save the global analysis into a new file. The images below show the main window at the beginning and the main window with an histogram of how many equipments had success (value 1) or insuccess (value 0) at sending their information to the database.

The data analysis is based on the Binomial Test and the ANOVA/Kruskal-Wallis Test (parametric/non-parametric Test). The first one checks whether a given population has a particular characteristic. It is used to check if a certain type of equipments had or not success sending their information to the database and remotely do orders given by the people at the company. The ANOVA/Kruskal-Wallis Test decides whether one or more factors influence the set of two, or more, groups, by comparing their locations. It is used to check whether there is any significant difference in sending the information to the database, among the different types of the equipments that exists in the company.

The output file not only allows the user to globally understand the efficiency of different combinations, but also it is used in the second program developed.

The second program is a simulator, implemented in C++. To use it, the user needs to insert the output file obtained in the R program, which contains all the obtained combinations and allows the simulator to assess the efficiency of a certain combination, and a file with the smart grid to be tested. The program checks whether both files are valid. If that is not the case, a log file is created with the combinations that are not valid and the reason why. Additionally, in case one combination in the second file does not exist in the first one, the user is asked to insert the rate of efficiency of that combination. After all is set, the program saves the results of the simulation into a file, as shown below:

Example Of The Simulation Results

Both programs are currently being tested by the company and in a near future we will have some results and conclusions for the questions they had for quite a while.

It has been a great experience to study at the University of Coimbra, in particular at the Department of Mathematics, and simultaneously to apply my knowledge that I acquired along the years in a company as big as EDP Distribuição. This opportunity helped me to understand how mathematics can fit into the business context and gave me the chance to better prepare for the coming future.