Improved algorithms for symmetry analysis: structure preserving permutations

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We propose an improved algorithm for calculating Avnir’s continuous symmetry and chirality measures of molecules. These measures evaluate the deviation of a given structure from symmetry by calculating the distance between the structure and its nearest symmetric counterpart. Our new algorithm utilizes structural properties of the given molecule to increase the accuracy of the calculation and dramatically reduce the running time by up to tens orders of magnitude. Consequently, a wide variety of molecules of medium size with ca. 100 atoms and even more can be analyzed within seconds. Numerical evidence of the algorithm’s efficiency is presented for several families of molecules such as helicenes, porphyrins, dendrimers building blocks, fullerene and more. The ease and efficiency of the calculation make the continuous symmetry and chirality measures promising descriptors for integration in quantitative structure–activity relationship tools, as well as chemical databases and molecular visualization software.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-212
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Mathematical Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer International Publishing AG.


  • Chirality
  • Continuous symmetry measures
  • Graph automorphism
  • Permutations
  • QSAR descriptors


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