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Taking the full network observability of power system operation states and the least number of phasor measurement units (PMUs) as an objective function, an improved optimal PMU placement algorithm is proposed. In this algorithm, genetic algorithm (GA) is effectively combined with the particle swarm optimization (PSO) algorithm to ensure that the optimal solution can be obtained. The cross and aberrance operations in GA are used in the PMUs placement scheme to decrease the searching scope of the PSO method and improve the quality of initial PMU placement, thus the solving process is accelerated. In addition, a speedy observability analysis method which is called the pseudo measurement is put forward. The effectiveness of proposed algorithm is verified by the numerical simulation results of IEEE 14-bus and New England 39-bus system respectively.