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Workshop: Machine Learning for Drug Discovery (MLDD)

Evaluating Generalization in GFlowNets for Molecule Design

Andrei Nica · Moksh Jain · Emmanuel Bengio · Cheng-Hao Liu · Maksym Korablyov · Michael Bronstein · Yoshua Bengio

Keywords: [ Molecule Design ] [ diversity ]


Deep learning bears promise for drug discovery problems such as de novo molecular design. Generating data to train such models is a costly and time-consuming process, given the need for wet-lab experiments or expensive simulations. This problem is compounded by the notorious data-hungriness of machine learning algorithms. In small molecule generation the recently proposed GFlowNet method has shown good performance in generating diverse high-scoring candidates and has the interesting advantage of being an off-policy offline method. Finding an appropriate generalization evaluation metric for such models, one predictive of the desired search performance (i.e. finding high-scoring diverse candidates), will help guide online data collection for such an algorithm. In this work, we develop techniques for evaluating GFlowNet performance on a test set, and identify the most promising metric for predicting generalization. We present empirical results on several small-molecule design tasks in drug discovery, for several GFlowNet training setups, and we find a metric strongly correlated with diverse high-scoring batch generation. This metric should be used to identify the best generative model from which to sample batches of molecules to be evaluated.

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