Evolvable Hardware

Evolvable Systems: From Biology to Hardware

Volume 1259 of the series Lecture Notes in Computer Science pp 390-405


An evolved circuit, intrinsic in silicon, entwined with physics

  • Adrian ThompsonAffiliated withCOGS, University of Sussex

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‘Intrinsic’ Hardware Evolution is the use of artificial evolution — such as a Genetic Algorithm — to design an electronic circuit automatically, where each fitness evaluation is the measurement of a circuit's performance when physically instantiated in a real reconfigurable VLSI chip. This paper makes a detailed case-study of the first such application of evolution directly to the configuration of a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). Evolution is allowed to explore beyond the scope of conventional design methods, resulting in a highly efficient circuit with a richer structure and dynamics and a greater respect for the natural properties of the implementation medium than is usual. The application is a simple, but not toy, problem: a tone-discrimination task. Practical details are considered throughout.