Sample-efficient Multi-objective Molecular Optimization with GFlowNets

Published: 21 Sept 2023, Last Modified: 02 Nov 2023NeurIPS 2023 posterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Keywords: drug discovery, multi-objective molecular optimization, Bayesian optimization, generative flow networks
TL;DR: A preference-conditioned GFlowNet-based Bayesian optimization algorithm for sample-efficient multi-objective molecular optimization
Abstract: Many crucial scientific problems involve designing novel molecules with desired properties, which can be formulated as a black-box optimization problem over the *discrete* chemical space. In practice, multiple conflicting objectives and costly evaluations (e.g., wet-lab experiments) make the *diversity* of candidates paramount. Computational methods have achieved initial success but still struggle with considering diversity in both objective and search space. To fill this gap, we propose a multi-objective Bayesian optimization (MOBO) algorithm leveraging the hypernetwork-based GFlowNets (HN-GFN) as an acquisition function optimizer, with the purpose of sampling a diverse batch of candidate molecular graphs from an approximate Pareto front. Using a single preference-conditioned hypernetwork, HN-GFN learns to explore various trade-offs between objectives. We further propose a hindsight-like off-policy strategy to share high-performing molecules among different preferences in order to speed up learning for HN-GFN. We empirically illustrate that HN-GFN has adequate capacity to generalize over preferences. Moreover, experiments in various real-world MOBO settings demonstrate that our framework predominantly outperforms existing methods in terms of candidate quality and sample efficiency. The code is available at
Submission Number: 6193