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Energy-Inspired Molecular Conformation Optimization

Jiaqi Guan · Wei Qian · Qiang Liu · Wei-Ying Ma · Jianzhu Ma · Jian Peng



This paper studies an important problem in computational chemistry: predicting a molecule's spatial atom arrangements, or a molecular conformation. We propose a neural energy minimization formulation that casts the prediction problem into an unrolled optimization process, where a neural network is parametrized to learn the gradient fields of an implicit conformational energy landscape. Assuming different forms of the underlying potential energy function, we can not only reinterpret and unify many of the existing models but also derive new variants of SE(3)-equivariant neural networks in a principled manner. In our experiments, these new variants show superior performance in molecular conformation optimization comparing to existing SE(3)-equivariant neural networks. Moreover, our energy-inspired formulation is also suitable for molecular conformation generation, where we can generate more diverse and accurate conformers comparing to existing baselines.

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