Machine learning predictions of molecular properties: Accurate many-body potentials and nonlocality in chemical space

Katja Hansen, Franziska Biegler, Raghunathan Ramakrishnan, Wiktor Pronobis, O. Anatole Von Lilienfeld, Klaus Robert Müller, Alexandre Tkatchenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

539 Citations (Scopus)


Simultaneously accurate and efficient prediction of molecular properties throughout chemical compound space is a critical ingredient toward rational compound design in chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Aiming toward this goal, we develop and apply a systematic hierarchy of efficient empirical methods to estimate atomization and total energies of molecules. These methods range from a simple sum over atoms, to addition of bond energies, to pairwise interatomic force fields, reaching to the more sophisticated machine learning approaches that are capable of describing collective interactions between many atoms or bonds. In the case of equilibrium molecular geometries, even simple pairwise force fields demonstrate prediction accuracy comparable to benchmark energies calculated using density functional theory with hybrid exchange-correlation functionals; however, accounting for the collective many-body interactions proves to be essential for approaching the "holy grail" of chemical accuracy of 1 kcal/mol for both equilibrium and out-of-equilibrium geometries. This remarkable accuracy is achieved by a vectorized representation of molecules (so-called Bag of Bonds model) that exhibits strong nonlocality in chemical space. In addition, the same representation allows us to predict accurate electronic properties of molecules, such as their polarizability and molecular frontier orbital energies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2326-2331
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jun 18

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Chemical Society.


  • atomization energies
  • chemical compound space
  • machine learning
  • many-body potentials
  • molecular properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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