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A Simple Iterative Approach to Parameter Optimization


Zien,  A
Department Empirical Inference, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Zien, A., Zimmer, R., & Lengauer, T. (2000). A Simple Iterative Approach to Parameter Optimization. Journal of Computational Biology, 7(3,4), 483-501. Retrieved from

Various bioinformatics problems require optimizing several different properties simultaneously. For example, in the protein threading problem, a scoring function combines the values for different parameters of possible sequence-to-structure alignments into a single score to allow for unambiguous optimization. In this context, an essential question is how each property should be weighted. As the native structures are known for some sequences, a partial ordering on optimal alignments to other structures, e.g., derived from structural comparisons, may be used to adjust the weights. To resolve the arising interdependence of weights and computed solutions, we propose a heuristic approach: iterating the computation of solutions (here, threading alignments) given the weights and the estimation of optimal weights of the scoring function given these solutions via systematic calibration methods. For our application (i.e., threading), this iterative approach results in structurally meaningful weights that significantly improve performance on both the training and the test data sets. In addition, the optimized parameters show significant improvements on the recognition rate for a grossly enlarged comprehensive benchmark, a modified recognition protocol as well as modified alignment types (local instead of global and profiles instead of single sequences). These results show the general validity of the optimized weights for the given threading program and the associated scoring contributions.