R. Menichetti, M. Giulini and R. Potestio, A journey through mapping space: characterising the statistical and metric properties of reduced representations of macromolecules, EPJB (2021)

A mapping of a macromolecule is a prescription to construct a simplified representation of the system in which only a subset of its constituent atoms is retained. As the specific choice of the mapping affects the analysis of all-atom simulations as well as the construction of coarse-grained models, the characterisation of the *mapping space* has recently attracted increasing attention. We here introduce a notion of scalar product and distance between reduced representations, which allows the study of the metric and topological properties of their space in a quantitative manner. Making use of a Wangâ€“Landau enhanced sampling algorithm, we exhaustively explore such space, and examine the qualitative features of mappings in terms of their squared norm. A one-to-one correspondence with an interacting lattice gas on a finite volume leads to the emergence of discontinuous phase transitions in mapping space, which mark the boundaries between qualitatively different reduced representations of the same molecule.