# network theorem

Anyone who’s studied geometry should be familiar with the concept of a *theorem*: a relatively simple rule used to solve a problem, derived from a more intensive analysis using fundamental rules of mathematics. At least hypothetically, any prblem in math can be solved just by using the simple rules of arithmetic (in fact, this is how modern digital computers carry out the most complex mathematical calculations: by repeating many cycles of additions and subtractions!), but human beings aren’t as consistent or as fast as a digital computer. We need “shortcut” methods in order to avoid procedural errors.

In electric network analysis, the fundamental rules are Ohm’s Law and Kirchhoff’s Laws. While these humble laws may be applied to analyze just about any circuit configuration (even if we have to resort to complex algebra to handle multiple unknowns), there are some “shortcut” methods of analysis to make the math easier for the average human.

As with any theorem of geometry or algebra, these network theorems are derived from fundamental rules. In this chapter, I’m not going to delve into the formal proofs of any of these theorems. If you doubt their validity, you can always empirically test them by setting up example circuits and calculating values using the “old” (simultaneous equation) methods versus the “new” theorems, to see if the answers coincide. They always should!

### Millman’s Theorem

In Millman’s Theorem, the circuit is re-drawn as a parallel network of branches, each branch containing a resistor or series battery/resistor combination. Millman’s Theorem is applicable only to those circuits which can be re-drawn accordingly. Here again is our example circuit used for the last two analysis methods:

And here is that same circuit, re-drawn for the sake of applying Millman’s Theorem:

By considering the supply voltage within each branch and the resistance within each branch, Millman’s Theorem will tell us the voltage across all branches. Please note that I’ve labeled the battery in the rightmost branch as “B_{3}” to clearly denote it as being in the third branch, even though there is no “B_{2}” in the circuit!

Millman’s Theorem is nothing more than a long equation, applied to any circuit drawn as a set of parallel-connected branches, each branch with its own voltage source and series resistance:

Substituting actual voltage and resistance figures from our example circuit for the variable terms of this equation, we get the following expression:

The final answer of 8 volts is the voltage seen across all parallel branches, like this:

The polarity of all voltages in Millman’s Theorem are referenced to the same point. In the example circuit above, I used the bottom wire of the parallel circuit as my reference point, and so the voltages within each branch (28 for the R_{1} branch, 0 for the R_{2} branch, and 7 for the R_{3} branch) were inserted into the equation as positive numbers. Likewise, when the answer came out to 8 volts (positive), this meant that the top wire of the circuit was positive with respect to the bottom wire (the original point of reference). If both batteries had been connected backwards (negative ends up and positive ends down), the voltage for branch 1 would have been entered into the equation as a -28 volts, the voltage for branch 3 as -7 volts, and the resulting answer of -8 volts would have told us that the top wire was negative with respect to the bottom wire (our initial point of reference).

To solve for resistor voltage drops, the Millman voltage (across the parallel network) must be compared against the voltage source within each branch, using the principle of voltages adding in series to determine the magnitude and polarity of voltage across each resistor:

To solve for branch currents, each resistor voltage drop can be divided by its respective resistance (I=E/R):

The direction of current through each resistor is determined by the polarity across each resistor, *not* by the polarity across each battery, as current can be forced backwards through a battery, as is the case with B_{3} in the example circuit. This is important to keep in mind, since Millman’s Theorem doesn’t provide as direct an indication of “wrong” current direction as does the Branch Current or Mesh Current methods. You must pay close attention to the polarities of resistor voltage drops as given by Kirchhoff’s Voltage Law, determining direction of currents from that.

Millman’s Theorem is very convenient for determining the voltage across a set of parallel branches, where there are enough voltage sources present to preclude solution via regular series-parallel reduction method. It also is easy in the sense that it doesn’t require the use of simultaneous equations. However, it is limited in that it only applied to circuits which can be re-drawn to fit this form. It cannot be used, for example, to solve an unbalanced bridge circuit. And, even in cases where Millman’s Theorem can be applied, the solution of individual resistor voltage drops can be a bit daunting to some, the Millman’s Theorem equation only providing a single figure for branch voltage.

As you will see, each network analysis method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Each method is a tool, and there is no tool that is perfect for all jobs. The skilled technician, however, carries these methods in his or her mind like a mechanic carries a set of tools in his or her tool box. The more tools you have equipped yourself with, the better prepared you will be for any eventuality.

**REVIEW:**- Millman’s Theorem treats circuits as a parallel set of series-component branches.
- All voltages entered and solved for in Millman’s Theorem are polarity-referenced at the same point in the circuit (typically the bottom wire of the parallel network).

## Superposition Theorem

Superposition theorem is one of those strokes of genius that takes a complex subject and simplifies it in a way that makes perfect sense. A theorem like Millman’s certainly works well, but it is not quite obvious *why* it works so well. Superposition, on the other hand, is obvious.

The strategy used in the Superposition Theorem is to eliminate all but one source of power within a network at a time, using series/parallel analysis to determine voltage drops (and/or currents) within the modified network for each power source separately. Then, once voltage drops and/or currents have been determined for each power source working separately, the values are all “superimposed” on top of each other (added algebraically) to find the actual voltage drops/currents with all sources active. Let’s look at our example circuit again and apply Superposition Theorem to it:

Since we have two sources of power in this circuit, we will have to calculate two sets of values for voltage drops and/or currents, one for the circuit with only the 28 volt battery in effect. . .

. . . and one for the circuit with only the 7 volt battery in effect:

When re-drawing the circuit for series/parallel analysis with one source, all other voltage sources are replaced by wires (shorts), and all current sources with open circuits (breaks). Since we only have voltage sources (batteries) in our example circuit, we will replace every inactive source during analysis with a wire.

Analyzing the circuit with only the 28 volt battery, we obtain the following values for voltage and current:

Analyzing the circuit with only the 7 volt battery, we obtain another set of values for voltage an current:

When superimposing these values of voltage and current, we have to be very careful to consider polarity (voltage drop) and direction (electron flow), as the values have to be added *algebraically*.

Applying these superimposed voltage figures to the circuit, the end result looks something like this:

Currents add up algebraically as well, and can either be superimposed as done with the resistor voltage drops, or simply calculated from the final voltage drops and respective resistances (I=E/R). Either way, the answers will be the same. Here I will show the superposition method applied to current:

Once again applying these superimposed figures to our circuit:

Quite simple and elegant, don’t you think? It must be noted, though, that the Superposition Theorem works only for circuits that are reducible to series/parallel combinations for each of the power sources at a time (thus, this theorem is useless for analyzing an unbalanced bridge circuit), and it only works where the underlying equations are linear (no mathematical powers or roots). The requisite of linearity means that Superposition Theorem is only applicable for determining voltage and current, *not power!!!* Power dissipations, being nonlinear functions, do not algebraically add to an accurate total when only one source is considered at a time. The need for linearity also means this Theorem cannot be applied in circuits where the resistance of a component changes with voltage or current. Hence, networks containing components like lamps (incandescent or gas-discharge) or varistors could not be analyzed.

Another prerequisite for Superposition Theorem is that all components must be “bilateral,” meaning that they behave the same with electrons flowing either direction through them. Resistors have no polarity-specific behavior, and so the circuits we’ve been studying so far all meet this criterion.

The Superposition Theorem finds use in the study of alternating current (AC) circuits, and semiconductor (amplifier) circuits, where sometimes AC is often mixed (superimposed) with DC. Because AC voltage and current equations (Ohm’s Law) are linear just like DC, we can use Superposition to analyze the circuit with just the DC power source, then just the AC power source, combining the results to tell what will happen with both AC and DC sources in effect. For now, though, Superposition will suffice as a break from having to do simultaneous equations to analyze a circuit.

**REVIEW:**- The Superposition Theorem states that a circuit can be analyzed with only one source of power at a time, the corresponding component voltages and currents algebraically added to find out what they’ll do with all power sources in effect.
- To negate all but one power source for analysis, replace any source of voltage (batteries) with a wire; replace any current source with an open (break).

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