1. gmentro.py(1)
  2. gmentro.py(1)


gmentro.py - Calculate entropy by Gaussian mixture fitting


gmentro.py [-h] [-d] [-q] [-c] [-w] [-J J] [--order 1|1.5|2|full] [--center] [--centeronly] [--stop cv|aicsd] [--overfit OVERFIT] [--sdelta SDELTA] [--emt EMT] [--cols COLS] [--slice SLICE] [--maxk MAXK] [--ncand NCAND] [--unit J|c|e] [--odir directory] [--version] datafilename


gmentro.py estimates entropy by Gaussian mixture fitting. The data file named datafilename must contain an n x d matrix with n lines and d columns, representing n samples of d variables. Comment lines starting with # are allowed in the data file.


Show help message and exit
Turn on debug mode. Generates a lot of extra output.
Quiet mode (no output to console, only to files)
Console mode (no output to files, only to console)
If output files already exist, overwrite them. Default: throw an error and exit if output files already exist.
-J J
Job number or job id string (for batch jobs or repeated runs; will set -q)
--order 1|1.5|2|full
Order of approximation to be used. 1 only calculates 1-D entropies and sums them up. 1.5 calculates the first-order approximation and corrects it with the quasiharmonic mutual information. 2 also calculates pairwise mutual information values and subtracts their sum from the first-order entropy to obtain the second-order entropy. The sum of mutual information values will also be reported. full calculates a full-dimensional entropy. Default: full
Perform distribution centering before calculating the entropy (default: no). This option assumes that the data are angles measured in degrees. Centering is always required for angle data unless the data in the data file are pre-centered.
Perform distribution centering on the data and save the centered data; do not calculate entropy. If the input data file is <data.dat>, the centered data will saved to <data.centered.dat>.
--stop cv|aicsd
Stopping criterion to use. cv refers to the cross-validation stopping criterion; aicsd uses a combination of the Akaike Information Criterion and entropy change upon adding another component (see --sdelta). See section STOPPING CRITERION below. Default: cv.
--overfit OVERFIT
Continue the calculation after the stopping criterion is met to obtain OVERFIT extra Gaussian components. Default: 0. This option is only for testing purposes, and is likely to result in overfitting.
--sdelta SDELTA
Calculation will stop when the entropy change in the last step is below SDELTA. Only used with --stop aicsd. See section STOPPING CRITERION below. Default: 0.2.
--emt EMT
Convergence threshold for EM (Expectation Maximization) calculation (default: 1e-5). This affects how accurately the individual Gaussian components are fit to the data. A lower threshold will result in longer calculation.
--cols COLS
Datafile columns to process as list of comma-separated ranges, e.g. 1-5,8,10-12. The other columns will be ignored. Default: use all columns.
--slice SLICE
A string in the format start:stop:step to be used to select lines to load from the datafile. It follows NumPy syntax, i.e. line numbering starts with zero, and the line with index "stop" is not loaded. Example: 10:20:2 means that lines 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 will be loaded (where line 10 means the 11th line in the file). If any values are omitted, the default values will be used. Default start is zero, default stop is the end of the file, and default step is 1. The default slice is "::". This option can be used e.g. to skip the equilibration stage in a simulation, or to test the entropy calculation with different sample sizes obtained by changing the time between frames in a simulation trajectory or limiting the simulation time.
--maxk MAXK
Maximum number of Gaussian components to be used in the mixture (default: 200). The algorithm will add components until convergence, but it will stop when MAXK is reached. Set MAXK to 1 to obtain a quasi-harmonic approximation where only a single Gaussian is fit.
--ncand NCAND
Number of candidates to use in component search (default: 30). The algorithm will try this many candidate components to find the next component of the mixture. If it fails to find an appropriate component, it will report the failure but will repeat the search. After 100 repetitions (i.e. after trying 100*NCAND candidates), however, the program will give up and exit. In this case, the NCAND parameter could be increased for an even more thorough search. For easy cases, NCAND can also be decreased to speed up the run.
--unit J|c|e
Entropy unit to use: J for J/K/mol, c for cal/K/mol, e for natural units (nats). Default: J.
--odir directory
Write output files to directory instead of the directory where the data file is.
Print the program's CRC32 checksum and exit. Used to identify program version.


The program writes its output to the console, and it also generates 3 output files whose names are formed from the data file name after cutting off its last 4 characters. For example, if the input file is named datafile.dat then the following output files will be generated:

Output file. It contains a header section but omits warnings.
Log file. Same as output file but includes warnings and debug messages. This is identical to what is written on the console.
The parameters of the fitted Gaussian mixture as a numpy npz file. This can be loaded by numpy.

If the -J J option is specified to provide a job number then the name of each output file will include the job number after the .gme. part, i.e. datafile.gme.J.out.

The .out and .log files will contain a header section where the program parameters are summarized. This is followed by the calculation results. Lines containing textual information will start with a # character for easier parsing (except in debug mode).

For full-dimensional calculations, the output will be two or three columns, with the first column being the number of Gaussian components and the second column the calculated entropy with the given number of components. This can be used to plot the entropy vs. the number of components easily, e.g. with gnuplot. If the cross-validation stopping criterion is used (as by default), the second and third columns will contain the entropy as calculated from the training and testing set, respectively. Generally, the value in the second column should be used as the estimated entropy.


By default, the program uses the cross-validation stopping criterion. This means that the input ensemble is randomly divided into two equal parts which will serve as training and testing sets. The Gaussian mixture fitting is performed on the training set and the log-likelihood is evaluated on the testing set upon adding each new Gaussian component. If this log-likelihood decreases upon adding a new component, the component is discarded and the calculation is stopped.

The cross-validation stopping criterion is very robust, but because the input ensemble is divided randomly into two parts, the estimated entropy will be different upon running the program several times. You can calculate a mean and a standard deviation from the results.

As an alternative to the cross-validation stopping criterion, the program can use a combination of two stopping criteria: the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) and an entropy change criterion. This can be activated by using the --stop aicsd option. The program will stop when either of the two criteria is met.

The AIC is defined by

AIC = 2*npar - 2*LL

where LL is the log-likelihood of the mixture with the given sample, and npar is the number of parameters in the mixture:

npar = k-1 + k*d + k*d*(d+1)/2

which includes the number of weights (k-1), the means of the Gaussian components (k*d parameters), and the covariance matrices (k*d*(d+1)/2 parameters).

The algorithm stops when the AIC increases compared to the previous step, i.e. if AIC(k+1) > AIC(k) then the k-component Gaussian mixture generated in the previous step will be accepted as the best estimate, and the associated entropy will be reported.

The entropy change criterion will cause the program to stop when the calculated entropy differs by less than SDELTA from the one calculated in the previous step. The value of SDELTA can be set by the --sdelta SDELTA command line option; its default value is 0.1. Because this is a relatively small value, the AIC will often stop the program before the entropy change falls below this value.

Note that the algorithm also stops if the log-likelihood does not increase upon performing partial EM on the newly added Gaussian component. Therefore, the program can detect, for example, if the sample was generated from only a single Gaussian distribution.


The program can display a number of warnings as it runs. The most common warnings are:

"x out of n likelihoods are too small"
This means that the calculated likelihood of some data points is below the smallest positive number that can be represented by the computer. This is normal for high-dimensional samples at the beginning of the calculation. The number of such points should decrease as the calculation progresses, and finally the warning should disappear. If the warning remains until the end, even before the final entropy value, the calculated entropy may not be sufficiently accurate. In this case, it is recommended that you use fewer variables, a larger sample, or a different stopping criterion.
"No appropriate candidates found. Trying more candidates..."
The program is having a hard time finding appropriate candidates for new components, but it keeps trying.
"Failed to find candidates. Result has not converged."
The program tried many times to find candidates but failed. The displayed result is not valid. You could try to increase the NCAND parameter and rerun. If this keeps failing, try a larger sample, fewer variables, or a different stopping criterion.
"No parent can be split, sample too small"
This warning appears when so many components have been added that the number of points in each component has become too small and no more components can be added (a component must hold at least d+1 points) while the convergence criteria have not been met. In this case, the result is not acceptable. You must provide a larger sample or reduce the number of dimensions. This warning is unlikely to occur when the cross-validation stopping criterion is used.


Most convergence problems can be avoided by using the cross-validation stopping criterion (as by default). When using the --stop aicsd option, i.e. using a combination of AIC and entropy change stopping criteria, convergence problems may appear, especially with undersampled distributions. The Akaike Information Criterion still prevents convergence problems in most cases because it stops the algorithm before the number of components could grow too high. However, for small samples and/or small number of variables, the AIC may not be able to detect the optimum model, and the entropy change criterion will be dominant. In this case, if the SDELTA value specified with the --sdelta option is too small, the algorithm may fail to converge. For undersampled distributions, the program may keep adding more and more components, with the entropy decreasing nearly linearly until the calculation finally reports that no more components can be added. This typically indicates insufficient sampling; the data points probably occupy a random intricate shape in the high-dimensional space. To solve the problem, increase SDELTA. Alternatively, increase sample size or reduce the number of dimensions. In some cases, the ensemble may actually have an overly complex shape which cannot be approximated well by a Gaussian mixture with a reasonable number of components.


gmentro.py datafile.dat
Calculate full-dimensional entropy on the sample in datafile.dat, using all default parameters.
gmentro.py --center datafile.dat
Perform distribution centering on the data in datafile.dat before calculating the entropy. The data in the file must be angles measured in degrees. After the centering, the entropy will be calculated as usual.
gmentro.py --centeronly datafile.dat
Perform distribution centering and save the data to datafile.centered.dat then exit. No entropy will be calculated. The centered data can then be used in further runs of gmentro.py.
gmentro.py --maxk 1 datafile.dat
Calculate quasiharmonic entropy (entropy from a single Gaussian) for the sample in datafile.dat
gmentro.py --order 2 datafile.dat
Calculate a second-order approximation of the entropy for the sample in datafile.dat. All 1-D entropies and all 2-D entropies and mutual information values, as well as their sums will be reported.
gmentro.py --cols 1-4,8-10 --every 3 datafile.dat
Calculate entropy only for the data file columns 1-4 and 8-10 (ignoring all other columns), and only load every 3rd line from the data file.
gmentro.py --aicsd --sdelta 0.1 --emt 1-e6 datafile.dat
Calculate full-dimensional entropy for datafile.dat using a combination of AIC and entropy change stopping criterion. Calculation will stop when either the AIC criterion is met or the entropy change upon adding a new component is less than 0.1 J/K/mol. Execution time may be longer and overfitting may occur.
gmentro.py --ncand 50 datafile.dat
A full-dimensional entropy will be calculated with the number of candidate Gaussians tried in each step increased to 50 from the default value of 30. This may increase the chance of convergence for difficult cases.


It is advisable to run the entropy calculation several times to see how much the results vary. To start a batch of 6 runs of gmentro.py on the same data, the following Bourne shell script could be used:

for i in 1 2 3 4 5 6 ; do
  gmentro.py -J $i datafile.dat &

The output files will be named datafile.gme.X.yyy where X goes from 1 to 6 and yyy is one of out, log, and npz.

The -J J option is also useful when gmentro.py is run several times on the same data with different parameters. By adding a job number or job id string, output files from different runs can have different names, thereby avoiding the overwriting of the output files from the previous run.


Entropy calculation on angle data using Gaussian mixtures requires that the angle distributions be centered. The distribution centering can be performed using the --center command line option, which assumes that the angles in the data file are provided in degrees. Centering can be omitted if the angle data in the data file are already pre-centered. Pre-centering can be performed using the --centeronly option. Note that entropies calculated on non-centered angle data will be meaningless.


Written by Andras Szilagyi (szilagyi.andras at ttk.mta.hu). Much of the code was adapted from the Matlab code downloaded from http://lear.inrialpes.fr/people/verbeek/software.php. The reference for the greedy EM method for Gaussian mixture fitting is: Verbeek JJ, Vlassis N, Krose B.: Efficient greedy learning of gaussian mixture models. Neural Comput. 2003 Feb;15(2):469-85. Please contact the author with bug reports, comments, etc.


Please cite gmentro.py as follows:

Gyimesi G, Zavodszky P, Szilagyi A:\ Calculation of configurational entropy differences from conformational ensembles using Gaussian mixtures.\ J. Chem. Theory Comput., 13(1):29-41. (2017) DOI: 10.1021/acs.jctc.6b00837\ PMID: 27958758


The program can be downloaded from http://gmentropy.szialab.org.

  1. February 2021
  2. gmentro.py(1)