by: Jeffrey Winicour
I review the development of numerical evolution codes for general relativity based upon the characteristic initial-value problem. Progress in characteristic evolution is traced from the early stage of 1D feasibility studies to 2D-axisymmetric codes that accurately simulate the oscillations and gravitational collapse of relativistic stars and to current 3D codes that provide pieces of a binary black-hole spacetime. Cauchy codes have now been successful at simulating all aspects of the binary black-hole problem inside an artificially constructed outer boundary. A prime application of characteristic evolution is to extend such simulations to null infinity where the waveform from the binary inspiral and merger can be unambiguously computed. This has now been accomplished by Cauchy-characteristic extraction, where data for the characteristic evolution is supplied by Cauchy data on an extraction worldtube inside the artificial outer boundary. The ultimate application of characteristic evolution is to eliminate the role of this outer boundary by constructing a global solution via Cauchy-characteristic matching. Progress in this direction is discussed.