Recent work has demonstrated the promise of using machine-learned surrogates, in particular, Gaussian process (GP) surrogates, in reducing the number of electronic structure calculations (ESCs) needed to perform surrogate model based (SMB) geometry optimization. In this paper, we study geometry meta-optimization with GP surrogates where a SMB optimizer additionally learns from its past “experience” performing geometry optimization. To validate this idea, we start with the simplest setting where a geometry meta-optimizer learns from previous optimizations of the same molecule with different initial-guess geometries. We give empirical evidence that geometry meta-optimization with GP surrogates is effective and requires less tuning compared to SMB optimization with GP surrogates on the ANI-1 dataset of off-equilibrium initial structures of small organic molecules. Unlike SMB optimization where a surrogate should be immediately useful for optimizing a given geometry, a surrogate in geometry meta-optimization has more flexibility because it can distribute its ESC savings across a set of geometries. Indeed, we find that GP surrogates that preserve rotational invariance provide increased marginal ESC savings across geometries. As a more stringent test, we also apply geometry meta-optimization to conformational search on a hand-constructed dataset of hydrocarbons and alcohols. We observe that while SMB optimization and geometry meta-optimization do save on ESCs, they also tend to miss higher energy conformers compared to standard geometry optimization. We believe that further research into characterizing the divergence between GP surrogates and potential energy surfaces is critical not only for advancing geometry meta-optimization but also for exploring the potential of machine-learned surrogates in geometry optimization in general.

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