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  1. The power grid is going through significant changes with the introduction of renewable energy sources and the incorporation of smart grid technologies. These rapid advancements necessitate new models and analyses to keep up with the various emergent phenomena they induce. A major prerequisite of such work is the acquisition of well-constructed and accurate network datasets for the power grid infrastructure. In this paper, we propose a robust, scalable framework to synthesize power distribution networks that resemble their physical counterparts for a given region. We use openly available information about interdependent road and building infrastructures to construct the networks. In contrast to prior work based on network statistics, we incorporate engineering and economic constraints to create the networks. Additionally, we provide a framework to create ensembles of power distribution networks to generate multiple possible instances of the network for a given region. The comprehensive dataset consists of nodes with attributes, such as geocoordinates; type of node (residence, transformer, or substation); and edges with attributes, such as geometry, type of line (feeder lines, primary or secondary), and line parameters. For validation, we provide detailed comparisons of the generated networks with actual distribution networks. The generated datasets represent realistic test systems (as compared with standard test cases published by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)) that can be used by network scientists to analyze complex events in power grids and to perform detailed sensitivity and statistical analyses over ensembles of networks. 
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  2. Simplicial neural networks (SNNs) have recently emerged as a new direction in graph learning which expands the idea of convolutional architectures from node space to simplicial complexes on graphs. Instead of predominantly assessing pairwise relations among nodes as in the current practice, simplicial complexes allow us to describe higher-order interactions and multi-node graph structures. By building upon connection between the convolution operation and the new block Hodge-Laplacian, we propose the first SNN for link prediction. Our new Block Simplicial Complex Neural Networks (BScNets) model generalizes existing graph convolutional network (GCN) frameworks by systematically incorporating salient interactions among multiple higher-order graph structures of different dimensions. We discuss theoretical foundations behind BScNets and illustrate its utility for link prediction on eight real-world and synthetic datasets. Our experiments indicate that BScNets outperforms the state-of-the-art models by a significant margin while maintaining low computation costs. Finally, we show utility of BScNets as a new promising alternative for tracking spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and measuring the effectiveness of the healthcare risk mitigation strategies. 
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