Sindhikara, Daniel J.; Kim, Seonah; Voter, Arthur F.; Roitberg, Adrian E.. Bad Seeds Sprout Perilous Dynamics: Stochastic Thermostat Induced Trajectory Synchronization in Biomolecules

Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 2009-04-28

Abstract: Molecular dynamics simulations starting from different initial conditions are commonly used to mimic the behavior of an experimental ensemble. We show in this article that when a Langevin thermostat is used to maintain constant temperature during such simulations, extreme care must be taken when choosing the random number seeds to prevent statistical correlation among the MD trajectories. While recent studies have shown that stochastically thermostatted trajectories evolving within a single potential basin with identical random number seeds tend to synchronize, we show that there is a synchronization effect even for complex, biologically relevant systems. We demonstrate this effect in simulations of alanine trimer and pentamer and in a simulation of a temperature-jump experiment for peptide folding of a 14-residue peptide. Even in replica-exchange simulations, in which the trajectories are at different temperatures, we find partial synchronization occurring when the same random number seed is employed. We explain this by extending the recent derivation of the synchronization effect for two trajectories in a harmonic well to the case in which the trajectories are at two different temperatures. Our results suggest several ways in which mishandling selection of a pseudorandom number generator initial seed can lead to corruption of simulation data. Simulators can fall into this trap in simple situations such as neglecting to specifically indicate different random seeds in either parallel or sequential restart simulations, utilizing a simulation package with a weak pseudorandom number generator, or using an advanced simulation algorithm that has not been programmed to distribute initial seeds.

DOI: 10.1021/ct800573m

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