International Tables for Crystallography

Enhanced macromolecular refinement by simulated annealing
A. T. Brunger, P. D. Adams and L. M. Rice. International Tables for Crystallography (2012). Vol. F, ch. 18.2, pp. 466-473  [ doi:10.1107/97809553602060000856 ]


The analysis of X-diffraction data generally requires sophisticated computational procedures that culminate in refinement and structure validation. The refinement procedure can be formulated as the chemically constrained or restrained nonlinear optimization of a target function, which usually measures the agreement between observed diffraction data and data computed from an atomic model. The ultimate goal of refinement is to simultaneously optimize the agreement of an atomic model with observed diffraction data and with a priori chemical information. Simulated annealing is an optimization technique particularly well suited to overcoming the multiple minima problem. Unlike gradient-descent methods, simulated annealing can cross barriers between minima and thus can explore a greater volume of the parameter space to find better models (deeper minima). Following its introduction to crystallographic refinement, there have been major improvements of the original method in four principal areas: the measure of model quality, the search of the parameter space, the target function and the modelling of conformational variability. These developments are discussed in this chapter.

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About International Tables for Crystallography

International Tables for Crystallography is the definitive resource and reference work for crystallography. The series consists of eight volumes and comprises articles and tables of data relevant to crystallographic research and to applications of crystallographic methods in all sciences concerned with the structure and properties of materials.