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To determine the optimal or near optimal parameters of PID controller with incomplete derivation, a novel design method based on differential evolution (DE) algorithm is presented. The controller is called DE-PID controller. To overcome the disadvantages of the integral performance criteria in the frequency domain such as IAE, ISE, and ITSE, a new performance criterion in the time domain is proposed. The optimization procedures employing the DE algorithm to search the optimal or near optimal PID controller parameters of a control system are demonstrated in detail. Three typical control systems are chosen to test and evaluate the adaptation and robustness of the proposed DE-PID controller. The simulation results show that the proposed approach has superior features of easy implementation, stable convergence characteristic, and good computational efficiency. Compared with the ZN, GA, and ASA, the proposed design method is indeed more efficient and robust in improving the step response of a control system.