An asynchronous evolutionary optimization algorithm and software package for global optimization and hyperparameter search on high-performance computers.


Cite this software

What Propulate can do for you

DOI License: BSD-3 PyPI
PyPI - Downloads Code style: black OpenSSF Best Practices Documentation Status

Click here to watch our 3 min introduction video!

Propulate is an HPC-tailored software for solving optimization problems in parallel. It is openly accessible and easy to use. Compared to a widely used competitor, Propulate is consistently faster - at least an order of magnitude for a set of typical benchmarks - and in some cases even more accurate.

Inspired by biology, Propulate borrows mechanisms from biological evolution, such as selection, recombination, and mutation. Evolution begins with a population of solution candidates, each with randomly initialized genes. It is an iterative "survival of the fittest" process where the population at each iteration can be viewed as a generation. For each generation, the fitness of each candidate in the population is evaluated. The genes of the fittest candidates are incorporated in the next generation.

Like in nature, Propulate does not wait for all compute units to finish the evaluation of the current generation. Instead, the compute units communicate the currently available information and use that to breed the next candidate immediately. This avoids waiting idly for other units and thus a load imbalance.
Each unit is responsible for evaluating a single candidate. The result is a fitness level corresponding with that candidate’s genes, allowing us to compare and rank all candidates. This information is sent to other compute units as soon as it becomes available.
When a unit is finished evaluating a candidate and communicating the resulting fitness, it breeds the candidate for the next generation using the fitness values of all candidates it evaluated and received from other units so far.

Propulate can be used for hyperparameter optimization and neural architecture search.
It was already successfully applied in several accepted scientific publications. Applications include grid load forecasting, remote sensing, and structural molecular biology.

In more technical terms

Propulate is a massively parallel evolutionary hyperparameter optimizer based on the island model with asynchronous propagation of populations and asynchronous migration. In contrast to classical genetic algorithms, Propulate maintains a continuous population of already evaluated individuals with a softened notion of the typically strictly separated, discrete generations. Our contributions include:

  • A novel parallel genetic algorithm based on a fully asynchronous island model with independently processing workers.
  • Massive parallelism by asynchronous propagation of continuous populations and migration via efficient communication using the message passing interface.
  • Optimized use efficiency of parallel hardware by minimizing idle times in distributed computing environments.

To be more efficient, the generations are less well separated than they usually are in evolutionary algorithms. New individuals are generated from a pool of currently active, already evaluated individuals that may be from any generation. Individuals may be removed from the breeding population based on different criteria.

You can find the corresponding publication here:

Taubert, O. et al. (2023). Massively Parallel Genetic Optimization Through Asynchronous Propagation of Populations. In: Bhatele, A., Hammond, J., Baboulin, M., Kruse, C. (eds) High Performance Computing. ISC High Performance 2023. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 13948. Springer, Cham.


Check out the full documentation at! Here you can find installation instructions, tutorials, theoretical background, and API references.


Propulate depends on mpi4py and requires an MPI implementation under the hood. Currently, it is only tested with OpenMPI. You can install the latest stable release from PyPI: pip install propulate
If you need the latest updates, you can also install Propulate directly from the master branch. Just pull and run pip install -e . or python develop.


This work is supported by the Helmholtz AI platform grant.

Participating organisations

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Helmholtz AI
Forschungszentrum Jülich



Marie Weiel
Marie Weiel
Developer and Maintainer
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Oskar Taubert
Developer and maintainer
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Daniel Coquelin
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Markus Götz
Markus Götz
Developer and Principal Investigator
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Alexander Schug
Principal Investigator
Forschungszentrum Jülich
Achim Streit
Principal Investigator
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology