Increasing decreasing complexity we are not sure

12 September 2015 - OrgOrgChem

increasing_complexity_or_decsreasing.PNG Li and Eastgate in Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry introduce a complexity index for molecules and for synthetic schemes (DOI). Nothing fancy to do with computer algorithms or graph theory but simply inviting a troupe of experienced chemists in the flesh to rank molecules or reactions by complexity. The interesting find is that these chemists to a fair degree agree on complexity not only in terms of molecules but also in terms of reactions. Case study: the epic strychnine total synthesis with 13 routes published thus far and counting. According to the expert panel the Vanderwal effort of 2011 beats that of the effort by God-King Woodward of 1954. All nice and well, there is just one nagging annoyance with this publication: why rank along a complexity index with the highest complexity the value of 1? That should be the other way around? It makes all graphs (see for example inset) confusing. This blog calls for a less complex definition of a complexity index.