An optoelectronic neural network is presented that is designed to solve the assignment problem - or any similar optimization task given minimal adjustment - in both crossbar and banyan packet switches. We examine the design decisions made at the hardware, software, and algorithmic levels and indicate the associated effect on the system as a whole. Clearly detailed experimental results show the system's robustness and performance due to the particular optoelectronic-algorithm combination used. The integration and packaging of such a system are also briefly discussed. © 2004 Optical Society of America.