Posts Tagged ‘cdk’

Over the past few days I’ve been developing some predictive models in R, for the solubility data being generated as part of the ONS Solubility Challenge. As I develop the models I put up a brief summary of the results on the wiki. In the end however, we’d like to use these models to predict the solubility of untested compounds. While anybody can send me a SMILES string and get back a prediction, it’s more useful (and less work for me!) if a user can do it themselves. This requires that the models be deployed and made available as a web page or a service. Last year I developed a series of statistical web services based on R. The services were written in Java and are described in this paper. Since I’m working more with REST services these days, I wanted to see how easy it’d be to develop a model deployment system using Python, thus avoiding a multi-tiered system. With the help of rpy2, it turns out that this wasn’t very difficult.


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The folks at the EBI have been doing some great work on the CDK. A major effort is underway to revamp JChemPaint and part of this involves improving the rendering of 2D depictions. While not complete I rebuilt a version of the CDK 1.2.x branch with the latest rendering code from the jchempaint-primary branch and updated the CDK web service. The results are much nicer, though there’s scope for improvements. See for example


Thanks to Gilleain and Egon for pointing me in the right direction. Anybody using this service should see the new depictions automatically

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As part of my work at IU I have been implementing a number of cheminformatics web services. Initially these were SOAP, but I realized that REST interfaces make life much easier. (also see here) As a result, a number of these services have simple REST interfaces. One such service provides molecular descriptor calculations, using the CDK as the backend. Thus by visitingĀ  (i.e., making a HTTP GET request) a URL of the form


you get a simple XML document containing a list of URL’s. Each URL represents a specific “resource”. In this context, the resource is the descriptor values for the given molecule. Thus by visiting


one gets another simple XML document that lists the names and values of the AlogP descriptor. In this case, the CDK implementation evaluates AlogP, AlogP2 and molar refractivity – so there are actually three descriptor values. On the other hand something like theĀ  molecular weight descriptor gives a single value. To just see the list of available descriptors visit


which gives an XML document containing a series of links. Visiting one of these links gives the “descriptor specification” – information on the vendor, version, reference to a descriptor ontology and so on.

(I should point out that the descriptors available in this service are from a pretty old version of the CDK. I really should update the descriptors to the 1.2.x versions)


This type of interface makes it easy to whip up various applications. One example is the PCA analysis of compound collections. Another one I put together today based on a conversation with Jean-Claude was a simple application to plot pairs of descriptor values for a collection of SMILES.


The app is pretty simple (and quite slow, since it uses synchronous GET’s to the descriptor service for each SMILES and has to make two calls for each SMILES – hey, it was a quick hack!). Currently, it’s a bit restrictive – if a descriptor calculates multiple values, it will only use the first value. To see how many values a molecular descriptor calculates, see the list here.

With a little more effort one could easily have a pretty nice online descriptor calculation application rivaling a standalone application such as the the CDK descriptor GUI

Also,if you struggle with nice CSS layouts, the CSS Layout Collection is a fantastic resource. And jQuery rocks.

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A while back I wrote about some updates I had made to the CDK fingerprinting code to improve performance. Recently Egon and Jonathan Alvarsson (Uppsala) had made even more improvements. Some of them are simple fixes (making a String[] final, using Set rather than List) while others are more significant (efficient caching of paths). In combination, they have improved performance by over 50%, compared to my last update. Egon has put up a nice summary of performance runs here. Excellent work guys!

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Joe Leonard posted a question on the CCL mailing list today regarding “conformation envelopes”. More specifically, he asked

Has there been work on creating visualizations of “conformer envelopes”, graphical representations of the conformational space occupied (or available) to molecules. Particularly when such visualizations are used to (quickly/visually) compare whether 2 molecules can adopt the same shape – or if there are shapes of one that can’t be adopted by another.

A while back when I was investigating the use of the Ballester & Graham-Richards shape descriptors for 3D similarity searching. It turns out they perform quite poorly in enrichment benchmarks (which I’ll describe in a future post). At that time I was thinking of how Pub3D could scale to a multi-conformer version and I realized that the shape descriptors would allow me to easily visualize the “shape space” of a set of compounds. When these compounds are conformers for a molecule, one effectively gets a conformational envelope.


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Sometime back I was playing around with dynamic HTML and cam across a tutorial that described how to implement the dynamic suggestion feature that is commonly found on many websites (such as Google and Amazon). This set me wondering how I could use this mechanism to dynamically depict a SMILES string as I type it.


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In a previous post, I dicussed virtual screening benchmarks and some new public datasets for this purpose. I recently improved the performance of the CDK hashed fingerprints and the next question that arose is whether the CDK fingerprints are any good. With these new datasets, I decided to quantitatively measure how the CDK fingerprints compare to some other well known fingerprints.

Update – there was a small bug in the calculations used to generate the enrichment curves in this post. The bug is now fixed. The conclusions don’t change in a significant way. To get the latest (and more) results you should take a look here.


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