Generative Pre-Training from Molecules

16 September 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


SMILES is a line notation for entering and representing molecules. Being inherently a language construct, it allows estimating molecular data in a self-supervised fashion by employing machine learning methods for natural language processing (NLP). The recent success of attention-based neural networks in NLP has made large-corpora transformer pretraining a de facto standard for learning representations and transferring knowledge to downstream tasks. In this work, we attempt to adapt transformer capabilities to a large SMILES corpus by constructing a GPT-2-like language model. We experimentally show that a pretrained causal transformer captures general knowledge that can be successfully transferred to such downstream tasks as focused molecule generation and single-/multi-output molecular-property prediction. For each task, we freeze model parameters and attach trainable lightweight networks between attention blocks—adapters—as alternative to fine-tuning. With a relatively modest setup, our transformer outperforms the recently proposed ChemBERTa transformer and approaches state-of-the-art MoleculeNet and Chemprop results. Overall, transformers pretrained on SMILES corpora are promising alternatives that do not require handcrafted feature engineering, make few assumptions about structure of data, and scale well with the pretraining data size.


transfer learning
de novo molecule generation
molecular property prediction

Supplementary weblinks


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