Optimization model from Iowa State University uses random sampling and 'survival of the fittest' strategy to quickly solve a problem.


  • Increased efficiency
  • Decreased computation time


  • Computer algorithms
  • Space exploration
  • Materials science

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

  • Goal 12: Responsible Production & Consumption

The Challenge

High-entropy alloys are used in a variety of industries, including aviation, aerospace, and defense. They possess several desirable properties, including fracture resistance, corrosion and oxidation resistance, and usability in high-temperature and high-pressure environments. However, because they are a combination of five or more elements, there are billions of possible design options, making it difficult to quickly narrow the search to a few optimal candidates for a select application.

Innovation Details

Researchers used a hybrid evolutionary algorithm that combines Cuckoo Search (CS) and the Monte Carlo algorithm. CS is based on the egg-laying strategy of cuckoo birds, which lay their eggs in the nest of other birds. This usually results in a bigger, stronger cuckoo chick. The CS algorithm does something similar: there are several ‘nests’, each with a different ‘egg’ representing a possible solution. The nests compete against each other until the best solution is found. In the case of high-entropy alloys, each ‘egg’ represents a different combination of alloys, and the different alloys are rapidly tested by the computer to see which combination is the most successful. By combining this strategy with the well-known Monte Carlo algorithm and mathematical concept called Lévy flight, researchers were able to quickly find optimal high-entropy alloys for any number of applications.

Biological Model

Cuckoo birds are obligate brood parasite that lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. The hatched cuckoo chicks may push the host eggs out of the nest or be raised alongside the other chicks, stealing vital resources that allow it to grow bigger and stronger than if it was raised by its cuckoo parents.