We generalize an analytically solvable probabilistic model of cascading failure in which failing components interact with other components by increasing their load and hence their chance of failure. In the generalized model, instead of a failing component increasing the load of all components, it increases the load of a random sample of the components. The size of the sample describes the extent of component interactions within the system. The generalized model is approximated by a saturating branching process and this leads to a criticality condition for cascading failure propagation that depends on the size of the sample. The criticality condition shows how the extent of component interactions controls the proximity to catastrophic cascading failure. Implications for the complexity of power transmission system design to avoid cascading blackouts are briefly discussed.

%P 4 %8 05/2004 %R 10.1109/ISCAS.2004.1329957