Challenges of Evolvable Hardware: Past, Present and the Path to a Promising Future

P C Haddow, Andy Tyrrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nature is phenomenal. The achievements in, for example, evolution are
everywhere to be seen: complexity, resilience, inventive solutions and beauty.
Evolvable Hardware (EH) is a field of evolutionary computation (EC) that focuses
on the embodiment of evolution in a physical media. If EH could achieve even a
small step in natural evolution’s achievements, it would be a significant step for
hardware designers. Before the field of EH began, EC had already shown artificial
evolution to be a highly competitive problem solver. EH thus started off as a new
and exciting field with much promise. It seemed only a matter of time before
researchers would find ways to convert such techniques into hardware problem
solvers and further refine the techniques to achieve systems that were competitive
with or better than human designs. However, 15 years on—it appears that problems
solved by EH are only of the size and complexity of that achievable in EC 15 years
ago and seldom compete with traditional designs. A critical review of the field is
presented. Whilst highlighting some of the successes, it also considers why the field
is far from reaching these goals. The paper further redefines the field and speculates
where the field should go in the next 10 years.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-215
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011

Cite this