A report from “The mathematics of planet earth”

The mathematics of planet earth is a joint initiative from a consortium of mathematical sciences organizations around the world (organized nominally by DIMACS) that has the goal of showcasing how mathematics can be useful in tackling our world’s problems.  It started last year as a year-long focus, but has now expanded and will continue for the coming years as well.   I’ve been to a few events organized under this program, but the reason for this post is to highlight the recent workshop on “Data-aware energy use” organized at UCSD a week or so ago.

It was a fun event that brought together a variety of folks who think about how to use data to make better choices (optimization and control) in emerging smart(er) grids/buildings/cities/etc.  So, it was nice to see how data is incorporated in each of these settings, and learn from folks in other areas.

I waited until now to post about it because (most of) the talks were videotaped, and I wanted to be able to post pointers to the videos for some of the highlight talks.

Of course, many talks were interesting, but some good starting points for getting a feel about what went on at the workshop are David Culler’s talk on “Taking off in an energy information plane” and David Irwin’s talk on “Model-driven energy management for smart buildings.”  Both provided quite promising frameworks and initial deployments on how to smarten buildings through data management and inference. Another interesting one on the incorporation of wind energy into electricity markets was by Baosen Zhang on “Competition and cooperation among wind farms.”

Our group was very well-represented at the workshop. I gave a talk on our data center demand response work titled “Data centers and energy: Did we get it backwards.”  (I’ve written a previous post on the topic, too, but the video gives a more complete picture.)  Additionally, a current postdoc, Enrique Mallada, gave a talk on “Fair load-side control for frequency regulation,” and an alum of the group, Subhonmesh Bose, gave a talk on “Placement and control of energy storage in the grid.”  Another alum, Zhenhua Liu, also gave a talk on “Optimizing demand response for the smart grid,” but that video seems not to be up for some reason unfortunately…   Update:  Here’s a link to Zhenhua’s talk!


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