The need to reduce design time and cost means that electronics design automation through EAs could be profitable even if constrained to work within the same sphere as conventional design. By concentrating on the unconstrained case, however, we aim to map out the boundaries and benefits of the evolutionary approach, without blindly accepting the constraints inherited from conventional design. It is not claimed that all unconventional evolved circuits will be practically useful; it is claimed that to reject all unconventional circuits solely because they cannot be arrived at through conventional design methods is premature.
The argument that conventional design is constrained in a way that evolutionary design need not be, in principle, is given in the next section. This is hypothesis H1. To show that this can allow a practical EA to find new useful circuits is an empirical matter (H2). Hence a pair of case studies is presented. Finally, research tools are described that are being used to illuminate whether unconventional evolved circuits really can be of engineering benefit, when judged by the many criteria of a practical application (H3).