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J Chem Inf Comput Sci. 1996 Jul-Aug;36(4):794-803.

Neural network studies. 2. Variable selection.

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  • 1Institute of Bioorganic and Petroleum Chemistry, Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Kiev, Ukraine.


Quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) studies usually require an estimation of the relevance of a very large set of initial variables. Determination of the most important variables allows theoretically a better generalization by all pattern recognition methods. This study introduces and investigates five pruning algorithms designed to estimate the importance of input variables in feed-forward artificial neural network trained by back propagation algorithm (ANN) applications and to prune nonrelevant ones in a statistically reliable way. The analyzed algorithms performed similar variable estimations for simulated data sets, but differences were detected for real QSAR examples. Improvement of ANN prediction ability was shown after the pruning of redundant input variables. The statistical coefficients computed by ANNs for QSAR examples were better than those of multiple linear regression. Restrictions of the proposed algorithms and the potential use of ANNs are discussed.

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