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This paper has analyzed the principles of the traditional fault location methods which including traveling wave method, impedance method and the signal injection method. And it has introduced matrix method, neural networks, genetic algorithms, ant colony optimization, Petri nets and rough sets based on the distribution automation. Then this paper has pointed out their applications in the distribution network fault location. Finally, it discusses the future of distribution network fault location technology research and development prospects, taking into account the development trends of the distribution network and users' requirements on power supply reliability.