Macia, J.,Solé, R. V.

Evolved natural systems are known to display some sort of distributed robustness against the loss of individual components. Such type of robustness is not just the result of redundancy. Instead, it seems to be based on degeneracy, i.e. the ability of elements that are structurally different to perform the same function or yield the same output. Here, we explore the problem of how relevant is degeneracy in a class of evolved digital systems formed by NAND gates, and what types of network structures underlie the resilience of evolved designs to the removal or loss of a given unit. It is shown that our fault tolerant circuits are obtained only if robustness arises in a distributed manner. No such reliable systems were reached just by means of redundancy, thus suggesting that reliable designs are necessarily tied to degeneracy.