On the Automated, Evolutionary Design of Neural Networks-Past, Present, and Future Articles uri icon

publication date

  • March 2019

start page

  • 519

end page

  • 545


  • 32

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0941-0643

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1433-3058


  • Neuroevolution is the name given to a field of computer science that applies evolutionary computation for evolving some aspects of neural networks. After the AI Winter came to an end, neural networks reemerged to solve a great variety of problems. However, their usage requires designing their topology, a decision with a potentially high impact on performance. Whereas many works have tried to suggest rules-of-thumb for designing topologies, the truth is that there are not analytic procedures for determining the optimal one for a given problem, and trial-and-error is often used instead. Neuroevolution arose almost 3 decades ago, with some works focusing on the evolutionary design of the topology and most works describing techniques for learning connection weights. Since then, evolutionary computation has been proved to be a convenient approach for determining the topology and weights of neural networks, and neuroevolution has been applied to a great variety of fields. However, for more than 2 decades neuroevolution has mainly focused on simple artificial neural networks models, far from today's deep learning standards. This is insufficient for determining good architectures for modern networks extensively used nowadays, which involve multiple hidden layers, recurrent cells, etc...


  • neuroevolution; evolutionary algorithms; deep neural networks; convolutional neural networks