This paper describes how genetic programming was used as an automated invention machine to synthesize both the topology and numerical parameters for seven previously patented optical lens systems, including one aspherical system and one issued in the 21st-century. Two of the evolved optical lens systems infringe the claims of the patents and the others are novel solutions that satisfy the design goals stated in the patent. The automatic synthesis was done "from
scratch"--that is, without starting from a pre-existing good design and without pre-specifying the number of lenses, the topological layout of the lenses, or the numerical parameters of the lenses. Genetic programming is a form of evolutionary computation used to automatically solve problems. It starts from a high-level statement of what needs to be done and progressively breeds a population of candidate individuals over many generations using the principle of Darwinian natural selection and genetic recombination. The paper describes how genetic programming created eyepieces that duplicated the functionality of seven previously patented lens systems. The seven designs were created in a substantially similar and routine way, suggesting that the use of genetic programming in the automated design of both the topology and numerical parameters for optical lens systems may have widespread utility.© (2005) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.