Imagine there would be small circuits (assistants), comprising of only a few devices and/or gates, that could be embedded in any electronic design and automatically maintain its correct operation. They would not only autonomously monitor whether a system performs according to specification, but also influence (reconfigure) the design to ensure it stays within the desired operation region in the case of faults, component mismatch, drift, noise and environmental changes. These assistants would be continuously deriving and exchanging information from the state of their host-design in order to reconfigure on-line and/or to react in ways that introduce reliability and robustness to the host-design without adding redundancy or significant overhead. An electronic system equipped with this kind of assisting technology could autonomously achieve and maintain correct operation (homeostasis), similar to how immune systems protect their host organisms.
There are only very few examples of such circuits in current design libraries. For example, bus keepers (that prevent voltage drop and current fluctuations over long wire distances), XORs (to perform parity check), buffers (to improve timing). However, such circuit components are usually of digital CMOS nature and are also targeted at digital designs only. The proposed research therefore constitutes a novel approach to designing and optimising such components, and to making them more universally applicable. There is great potential for ground-breaking research outcome in case designs are discovered that find their way into design practice.