Automated Adaptive Absolute Binding Free Energy Calculations

18 June 2024, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Alchemical absolute binding free energy (ABFE) calculations have substantial potential in drug discovery, but are often prohibitively computationally expensive. To unlock their potential, efficient automated ABFE workflows are required to reduce both computational cost and human intervention. We present a fully-automated ABFE workflow based on the automated selection of λ windows, the ensemble-based detection of equilibration, and the adaptive allocation of sampling time based on inter-replicate statistics. We find that the automated selection of intermediate states with consistent overlap is rapid, robust, and simple to implement. Robust detection of equilibration is achieved with a paired t-test between the free energy estimates at initial and final portions of a an ensemble of runs. We determine reasonable default parameters for all algorithms and show that the full workflow produces equivalent results to a non-adaptive scheme over a variety of test systems, while often accelerating equilibration. Our complete workflow is implemented in the open-source package A3FE (


alchemical free energy
drug discovery
molecular dynamics

Supplementary materials

Supplementary Information
Supplementary Information for Automated Adaptive Absolute Binding Free Energy Calculations

Supplementary weblinks


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.