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Our ability to fabricate complex VLSI chips is outrunning our ability to design them. To reduce the design time for complex chips we are creating an expert design assistantÂ¿programs that automate as many of the design tasks as possible while allowing the human designer to control the synthesis process. A series of programs translates an algorithm into a chip layout. Some programs are expert systems while others use traditional algorithms. Our early results lead us to believe that a knowledge-based expert system is an appropriate tool for bridging the gap between logical and physical design.