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Workshop: Adaptive Experimental Design and Active Learning in the Real World

CircuitVAE: Efficient and Scalable Latent Circuit Optimization

Jialin Song · Aidan Swope · Robert Kirby · Rajarshi Roy · Saad Godil · Jonathan Raiman · Bryan Catanzaro


Automatically designing fast and space-efficient digital circuits is challenging because circuits are discrete, must exactly implement the desired logic, and are costly to simulate. We address these challenges with CircuitVAE, a search algorithm that embeds computation graphs in a continuous space and optimizes a learned surrogate of physical simulation by gradient descent. By carefully controlling overfitting of the simulation surrogate and ensuring diverse exploration, our algorithm is highly sample-efficient, yet gracefully scales to large problem instances and high sample budgets. We test CircuitVAE by designing binary adders across a large range of sizes, IO timing constraints, and sample budgets. Our method excels at designing large circuits, where other algorithms struggle: compared to reinforcement learning and genetic algorithms, CircuitVAE typically finds 64-bit adders which are smaller and faster using less than half the sample budget. We also find CircuitVAE can design state-of-the-art adders in a real-world chip, demonstrating that our method can outperform commercial tools in a realistic setting.

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