Daniel Mange*, Serge Durand, Eduardo Sanchez, André Stauffer,
Gianluca Tempesti, Pierre Marchal, Christian Piguet Daniel Mange*, Serge Durand, Eduardo Sanchez, André Stauffer are
with the Logic Systems Laboratory, Department of Computer Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, CH 1015 Lausanne (Switzerland). * to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Embryological electronics or "Embryonics" is a new paradigm for
developing digital systems of any complexity, endowed of universal
computation, self-repair and self-reproduction capabilities. Embryonics,
which can also be defined as a quasi-biological development of
artificial systems, is based on the natural mechanism of development
of living multi-cellular beings. Starting with a single mother
cell containing the description of the organism in the form of
a genome, the final organism is achieved through a succession
of cell divisions, occurring with the differentiation of each
cell, i.e. a specialization dependent essentially on the physical
position of the cell (i.e on its coordinates) in the given space.
Applying this technique to the design of digital neural networks
could lead to the development of artificial organisms simulating
both the biological development and the final architecture of
natural neural networks.
Engineering and natural sciences, traditionally proceeding along
seperate tracks, have drawn closer in these last decades. Engineers
have been allured by certain natural processes; two recent attempts
in this new direction will be discussed hereafter with the hope
to combine them in a common methodology: * * Even if the results reported in this paper are beyond the present
possibilities of silicon technology, the important point is the
following: we propose a complete methodology for designing very
complex integrated circuits with living creature properties, in
particular self-repair and self-reproduction properties. Developing
artificial neural networks with such a methodology could provide
digital organisms simulating both the biological development (embryology)
and the final architecture of natural neural networks.
The general hypothesis describes the selected environment: (a)
the automaton deals exclusively with the flow of information;
the physical material (usually a silicon substrate) and the energy
(power supply) are given a priori; (b) the physical space is two-dimensional
and as large as desired; (c) the physical space is The first characteristic is that of
The second characteristic is that of The third characteristic is that of
In order to illustrate the different steps of our methodology,
we have chosen a very simple example, the basic element of a cipher
machine. In a first step ([[section]] 3.1), we will show that
the cipher function, like any other boolean function, can be represented
by a binary decision tree. In a second step ([[section]] 3.2),
we will suggest that this binary decision tree can be realized
by a new kind of field-programmable gate array (FPGA) satisfying
the three basic characteristics discussed above: multi-cellular
organization, cellular differentiation and cellular division.
In the conclusion ([[section]] 3.3 and 3.4), we will illustrate
the self-reproduction and self-repair capabilities of this novel
architecture. Let C (Central), L (Left) and R (Right) be binary states of three
successive elements of the cipher machine, a 1-dimensional cellular
automaton described in [Wolfram 86](pp. 247 - 293). The future
state of C is defined by the boolean equation: C+ = C' L' R + C' L R' + C L' This equation may be represented by a It is well known that any boolean function can be represented
by a binary decision tree; this mode of representation and the
related methods are described for example in [Akers 78], [Bryant
92] and [Mange 92]. We observe now that the tree in Figure 3 has the following characteristics:
two sub-trees (ST1 and ST2) are trivial (their leaves are identical)
and can be replaced by the logic constants "0" (for ST1) and "1"
(for ST2). In order to make the final implementation easier, we
transform slightly the binary decision tree of Figure 3 and we
obtain the * each test element (diamond) is located on a rectangular array,
at the intersection of a row and a column; * each test element can only be connected to its nearest neighbours. In order to implement in a piece of hardware any normalized ordered
binary decision tree satisfying the general hypothesis of [[section]]
2.1 (2-dimensional homogeneous array of operators and connections)
and the first characteristic of [[section]] 2.2 (multi-cellular
organization), we have developed a prototype of a new field-programmable
gate array based on a fine-grained cell built around a one variable
multiplexer and called MUXTREE. The detailed description of MUXTREE cell is beyond the scope of
this paper and can be found in [Marchal 94]. It will be shown
here how this array of multiplexers is programmed in order to
calculate the gene of each cell and therefore to deduce the genome
of the whole system. We start from the normalized ordered binary decision tree of Figure
4a and observe that a rectangular array of 3 x 2 = 6 multiplexers
(test elements) is necessary to implement the cipher function.
In our simple example, programming this array is very easy: * each output of a test element which is a logic constant (0,
1) keeps its value in Figure 4b ; * each output of a test element heading South is marked "SOUTH"
in Figure 4b, each output of a test element heading South-East
is marked "EAST" and each output heading South-West is marked
"WEST" in Figure 4b; * each output of an unused test element is marked "Ø" (don't care
condition) in Figure 4b. If logic constants (0, 1) and cardinal points (SOUTH, EAST, WEST)
are coded from 0 to 4 according to Figure 4c, we obtain a 2-digit
word, i.e. a Moreover, if we introduce discrete coordinates (x: horizontal
coordinate, y: vertical coordinate), it is possible to address
each cell of the array by a word x,y. The second characteristic of [[section]] 2.2 (cellular differentiation)
necessitates a copy of the whole genome in each cell's RAM, together
with the right coordinates at the right place. A possible implementation
is illustrated in Figure 5: * each cell of the MUXTREE array is equipped with a RAM; each
RAM contains the whole genome of the cipher function, i.e. the
6 genes of Figure 4c; * each RAM is addressed by a word x,y, where x is the horizontal
coordinate and y the vertical coordinate; the increment of the
coordinates x and y is realized by simple adders (marked by "+1"
in Fig. 5); in this particular example, x is a boolean variable
and the adders for this coordinate are modulo 2 adders. For normal operation, a rectangular array of 2 columns and 3 rows,
i.e. 6 MUXTREE cells (with a multiplexer, programmable connections,
RAM and coordinate adders ) is sufficient. More cells are necessary
in case of self-repairing or self-reproduction processes. Duplicating a given function is staightforward. Suppose we have
two spare columns. With the original border condition (x = 0 as
in Fig. 5) and assuming a boolean horizontal coordinate x, the
chain of modulo 2 adders ("+1" in Fig. 5) will produce the following
values for the horizontal coordinate x, read from left to right:
0, 1, 0, 1. Combined with the vertical coordinate y which is unchanged,
the pattern of the horizontal coordinate x produces two copies
of the original array of Figure 4c and, therefore, two copies
of the same cipher function. As our cipher element is part of a 1-dimensional cellular automaton,
self-reproduction makes it possible to automatically generate
several copies identical to the basic element, and to get finally
an automaton of any length, the only limitation being the number
of MUXTREE cells at our disposal. Suppose we have a faulty cell in the first column of the cipher
element (Figure 6) and we have at our disposal one spare column
at the right of the array. A built-in self-test (BIST), as described
in [McCluskey 86], allows us to detect such a fault. It is possible
to reprogram the cipher function in the cellular array simply
by changing the border conditions. Replacing the border condition
x = 0 by x = 1 results in a shift of the whole pattern by one
column to the right (thanks to the chain of modulo 2 adders) and
thus allows us to obtain a new and correct version of the cipher
function.
Using standard FPGA and RAM circuits, we have implemented a first
prototype of our MUXTREE cell, which we have called "Biodule"
[Durand 94]. With a couple of these biodules, we have successfully
verified the self-reproduction and self-repair processes illustrated
in Figures 5 and 6. Our network of MUXTREE cells is capable of universal calculation
and can therefore realize any universal Turing machine. Thus,
our automaton can implement, within the limits imposed by the
available material, any digital realization of an artificial neural
network. The ease of reprogrammation by genome rewriting renders our automaton
particularly well suited for the realization of evolutive circuits
and, notably, of artificial neural networks hitherto implemented
using conventional FPGA circuits [Gustin 92] [Ferruci 94] [Gschwind
94]. The capability of self-reproduction is particularly interesting
for the implementation of neural networks composed of identical
elements, such as those realized with massively parallel architectures
[Distante 91] or systolic networks [Ienne 93]. Within the framework of the development of very-large scale integrated
circuits, we believe that the marriage between artificial neural
networks and quasi-biological cellular networks is a worth-while
research goal.
[Akers 78] S.B.Akers, "Binary Decision Diagrams", [Bryant 92] R.E.Bryant, "Symbolic Boolean Manipulation with Ordered
Binary-Decision Diagrams", [Durand 94] S.Durand, A.Stauffer, D.Mange, "Biodule: An Introduction
to Digital Biology", Technical Report, Logic Systems Laboratory,
EPFL, Lausanne, 1994. [Distante 91] F.Distante, M.Sami, R.Stefanelli, G.Storti-Gajani,
"Mapping Neural Nets onto a Massively Parallel Architecture: A
Defect-Tolerance Solution", [Ferruci 94] A.Ferruci, M.Martin, T.Geocaris, M.Schlag, P.K.Chan,
"A Field-Programmable Gate Array Implementation of a Self-Adapting
and Scalable Connectionist Network", [Gschwind 94] M.Gschwind, V.Salapura, O.Maischberger, "Space Efficient
Neural Net Implementation", [Gustin 92] V.Gustin, "Artificial Neural Network Realization with
Programmable Logic Circuit", [Ienne 93] P.Ienne, M.A.Viredaz, "GENES IV: A Bit-Serial Processing
Element for a Multi-Model Neural Network Accelerator", [McCluskey 86] E.J.McCluskey, "Logic Design Principles with Emphasis
on Testable Semicustom Circuits", Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs,
1986. [Mange 92] D.Mange, "Microprogrammed Systems: An Introduction
to Firmware Theory", Chapman & Hall, London, 1992. [Mange 94] D.Mange, A.Stauffer, "Introduction to Embryonics: Towards
New Self-repairing and Self-reproducing Hardware Based on Biological-like
Properties", [Marchal 94] P.Marchal, A.Stauffer, "Binary Decision Diagram Oriented
FPGAs", [Wolfram 86] S. Wolfram, "Theory and Applications of Cellular
Automata", World Scientific, Singapore, 1986.

## A New Paradigm for Developing Digital Systems Based on a Multi-Cellular
Organization

*CAUTION : HTML uncomplete version, figures are missing*

P. Marchal and C. Piguet are with the Centre suisse d'électronique
et de microtechnique SA, CH 2007 Neuchâtel (Switzerland).

## Abstract

## 1. Artificial neural networks and artificial embryology

*artificial* *neural* *networks* are based on a rough copy of the way the brain and its associated
neural system are supposed to function; these networks have a
structure completely different from that of the traditional computer
(Von Neumann architecture) and surpass its performance for non-numerical
applications such as symbol (handwriting) or shape (drawings,
pictures) recognition;*artificial* *embryology*, which is the subject of this paper, is based on the natural
mechanism of development of living multi-cellular beings; starting
from a single mother cell, the zygote, containing the complete
description of the organism in the form of a genome, the final
organism is achieved through a succession of cell divisions, occurring
concurrently with a differentiation of each cell, i.e. a specialization
dependent essentially on the physical position of the cell (i.e.
on its coordinates) in the given space.

## 2. Embryonics

*Embryonics*, i.e. the quasi-biological development of multi-cellular automata,
is based on a *general hypothesis*, which describes the environment in which the development occurs,
and on *three characteristics*, which roughly approximate the biological mechanism of cellular
development [Mange 94].## 2.1 The general hypothesis: the environment

*homogeneous*, that is comprised by identical cells, all of which have the
same internal architecture and the same connections with their
neighbors; only the *state* of a cell (the combination of the values in its memories) can
distinguish it from its neighbors; (d) the reproduction is asexual:
the daughter automaton is identical to the mother automaton.**2.2 The three characteristics***multi-cellular organization*. The proposed automaton meets all the general hypotheses described
before. The cell is essentially a random access memory (RAM) controlled
by a small processor: a part of the state of this RAM, called
the *gene*, completely defines the permanent operation of the cell. The
value of the gene depends only on the position of the cell in
the whole automaton. Fig. 1 illustrates the example of a simple
artificial organism realized with nine cells, each cell being
defined by a gene, from 1 to 9.*cellular differentiation*. Each cell holds the complete description of the organism, i.e.
the genome (Fig. 1) and computes its gene by extracting from the
genome the function which characterizes it. The gene of a cell
depends on its coordinates, i.e. on its place within the organism.*cellular division*. At the beginning (time t0) only one cell, the mother cell, holds
the genome of the organism (Fig. 2). After a first division (time
t1), two adjacent cells (to the north and to the east in the diagram
of Figure 2) hold a copy of the information of the mother cell.
These two cells will then be themselves copied into their own
neighbors (time t2), and so on until the plan has been fully implemented.
In the proposed example, the farthest cell is duplicated at time
t4.

## 3. Example: a cipher machine

##
3.1 Binary decision tree

*binary decision tree* (Fig. 3) in which each diamond is a *test element*, performing the test of an input variable, and each rectangle
is an *output element* producing an output state (0 or 1).*normalized ordered binary decision tree* of Figure 4a which is characterized by the following constraints:##
3.2 A new field-programmable gate array for multi-cellular organization

*gene*, for each test element, i.e. for each cell.## 3.3 Self-reproduction mode

## 3.4 Self-repair mode

## 4. Conclusion

## References

*IEEE Transactions on Computers*, Vol. C-27, No 6, pp. 509-516, June 1978.*ACM Computing Surveys*, Vol. 24, No 3, pp. 293-318, September 1992.*Proc*. *of the IEEE*, Vol. 79, No 4, pp. 444 - 460, April 1991.*Proc. of the ACM International Workshop on Field-Programmable
Gate Arrays*, Berkeley, February 1994.*Proc. of the ACM International Workshop on Field-Programmable
Gate Arrays*, Berkeley, February 1994.*Microprocessing* *and* *Microprogramming*, Vol. 35, pp. 187 - 192, 1992.*Proc. of the International Conference on Application Specific
Array Processors*, Venezia, pp. 345 - 356, October 1993.*Artificial Life and Virtual Reality,* John Wiley, 1994.*Proc. of the ACM International Workshop on Field-Programmable
Gate Arrays*, Berkeley, February 1994.

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