Path matching and graph matching in biological networks. Academic Article uri icon


  • We develop algorithms for the following path matching and graph matching problems: (i) given a query path p and a graph G, find a path p' that is most similar to p in G; (ii) given a query graph G (0) and a graph G, find a graph G (0)' that is most similar to G (0) in G. In these problems, p and G (0) represent a given substructure of interest to a biologist, and G represents a large network in which the biologist desires to find a related substructure. These algorithms allow the study of common substructures in biological networks in order to understand how these networks evolve both within and between organisms. We reduce the path matching problem to finding a longest weighted path in a directed acyclic graph and show that the problem of finding top k suboptimal paths can be solved in polynomial time. This is in contrast with most previous approaches that used exponential time algorithms to find simple paths which are practical only when the paths are short. We reduce the graph matching problem to finding highest scoring subgraphs in a graph and give an exact algorithm to solve the problem when the query graph G (0) is of moderate size. This eliminates the need for less accurate heuristic or randomized algorithms. We show that our algorithms are able to extract biologically meaningful pathways from protein interaction networks in the DIP database and metabolic networks in the KEGG database. Software programs implementing these techniques (PathMatch and GraphMatch) are available at and

published proceedings

  • J Comput Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Yang, Q., & Sze, S.

citation count

  • 68

complete list of authors

  • Yang, Qingwu||Sze, Sing-Hoi

publication date

  • January 2007