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The application of parallel (synchronous) particle swarm optimization (PSO) to electromagnetic absorber design is described. Synchronous PSO is a version of PSO that allows for parallelization and hence faster optimization. The velocity updating rule is empirically determined, and a simple approach is presented to improve its robustness. Absorbers designed with the PSO approach are compared with absorbers designed by genetic algorithms (GAs). Numerical results demonstrate that the PSO is able to deliver absorbers with comparable performance to GA-designed absorbers, with much less computational cost.