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In this paper the generation of walking gaits for biped robots is addressed as a nonlinear optimization problem. The latter presents an efficient formulation, which only requires parameterizing the joint states and does not require to integrate the equations of motion. The results of the optimization are applied to a real robot, with the aid of a suitable stabilizing controller. The final gain in optimized cost is assessed, for the real system. The experimental results confirm the effectiveness of the method.