Self-Improved Retrosynthetic Planning
Proceedings of the 38th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 139:5486-5495, 2021.
Retrosynthetic planning is a fundamental problem in chemistry for finding a pathway of reactions to synthesize a target molecule. Recently, search algorithms have shown promising results for solving this problem by using deep neural networks (DNNs) to expand their candidate solutions, i.e., adding new reactions to reaction pathways. However, the existing works on this line are suboptimal; the retrosynthetic planning problem requires the reaction pathways to be (a) represented by real-world reactions and (b) executable using “building block” molecules, yet the DNNs expand reaction pathways without fully incorporating such requirements. Motivated by this, we propose an end-to-end framework for directly training the DNNs towards generating reaction pathways with the desirable properties. Our main idea is based on a self-improving procedure that trains the model to imitate successful trajectories found by itself. We also propose a novel reaction augmentation scheme based on a forward reaction model. Our experiments demonstrate that our scheme significantly improves the success rate of solving the retrosynthetic problem from 86.84% to 96.32% while maintaining the performance of DNN for predicting valid reactions.