New computer program promises to be 'Rosetta Stone' for chemical names

April 29, 2009
A new computer software program that translates 00complex chemical names into various languages could help speed drug development worldwide, scientists report. Credit: The American Chemical Society

In an advance that will help speed global development of new drugs and patenting of new commercial and industrial products, a scientist in New Mexico is reporting development of the first computer program that can quickly and accurately translate complex chemical names from one language into another.

The study is in the current edition of ACS’ Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling.

Roger Sayle notes that a universal system for naming chemicals does exist. However, translating chemical names from one into another can be a complex task due to differences in spacing, capitalization, spelling, and other factors. Proper translation from English to Chinese, for example, often requires the use of specially trained chemists who are fluent in both languages. Although scientists have tried for decades to create software for quickly translating chemical names into other languages, there’s been limited progress in this area until now, Sayle notes.

Sayle reports development of a new version of a powerful computer program called Lexichem that can perform those translations. The study describes how that program translated a group of more than 250,000 chemical names from English to seven other languages (and back) with a 98 percent accuracy rate.

More information: Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling, “Foreign language translation of chemical nomenclature by computer”

Provided by American Chemical Society (news : web)

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