Suppose I have a group of organic compounds say A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H. I know their chemical formula and their names. Now there exists a reaction among these compounds but we do not know which compounds would react to give which products. It may be that A and B react to give C and D or B and D react to give F and H. If we are given these compounds, is it possible to identify a reaction that will occur among any number of these compounds to give the product which would belong to this set of compounds?

Note: If you have not understood any part of this question, please ask me before down-voting, I will edit the question and try to re-explain. Thank you. ALso I am a computer science student, so I dont have too deep knowledge in chemistry, so do help me.


closed as too broad by bon, user15489, M.A.R., ron, jerepierre Jul 9 '15 at 15:11

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes it is possible if you have a wide knowledge of organic reactions. Unless you have a question about any specific set of compounds or reactions then I have to agree with @M.A.Ramezani that this is far too broad. $\endgroup$ – bon Jul 9 '15 at 11:20
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    $\begingroup$ I thought that Rishika's idea of limiting it to reactions that occur within the body was a good idea. For one thing, we know that they occur in aqueous solution at 37 C. Furthermore, I think the total number of organic reactions that occur in the body is a relatively small and well understood subset of all chemical reactions. $\endgroup$ – iad22agp Jul 9 '15 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ Please reopen the question. This is not a homework question - the person asking it is curious and a serious participant. There may be others out there that would offer answers. Comments to the effect that the chemistry is "too complex" etc. are not helpful and sound pedantic. $\endgroup$ – iad22agp Jul 9 '15 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe too broad, but intersting question. There is actually reserch on the very topic (see Bartusz Grzybowsky and chematica.net, or hios paper pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2012/SC/…). $\endgroup$ – Greg Jul 10 '15 at 4:24
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    $\begingroup$ @iad22agp The question was not closed as a homework question. It was closed because it is too broad - and I agree with that. It has been flagged to be reopened and we will see how the community will decide. But I guess narrowing it down to a few functional groups and then continue this asking a few more questions is advisable. Right now it sounds to me like: Please explain organic chemistry to me. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Jul 10 '15 at 7:12

I think your question relates to the field of combinatorial chemistry. This is an important area especially for pharmaceutical companies that want to try out lots of different structures to see if they have therapeutic potential.

Lets talk specifics. In the case of known chemistry - e.g. formation of esters from alcohols and carboxylic acids, you can identify the possible reactions. Start with a system where A, B, C, and D are different alcohols and E, F, G, and H are different carboxylic acids. Under the right conditions (acid catalyzed dehydration), the alcohols can combine with the acids all possible ways to give 16 different esters (AE, AF, AG, ... etc.). But A (an alcohol) will not combine with the other alcohols B, C, or D -- and acid E will not combine with acids F, G, or H. Under more harsh conditions, however, they could be induced to react within each group (to form ethers or acid anhydrides).

If you are talking about a random selection of compounds - especially ones with more complex structures and more functional groups, and a variety of reaction conditions, the outcome would be much less predictable.

  • $\begingroup$ So like you said , carboxylic acids and alcohols react, are there other such pairs that you know of? Is there a link that you can provide then It will be easy for me to understand.. $\endgroup$ – girl101 Jul 10 '15 at 3:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Rishika there are literally thousands of reactions that we know of, involving both organic and inorganic chemicals. I think your best bet would be to consult an introductory textbook. However, I must caution against memorising reactions as a way of learning chemistry. It is boring, difficult, and unproductive. You might want to try reading Clayden et al., Organic Chemistry. $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Jul 10 '15 at 5:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Rishika Or if you are only interested in the human body, find a biochemistry textbook. Most biochem textbooks will discuss some basic chemistry in the introductory chapters that will hopefully allow you to understand what is going on when they introduce the complex molecules that make up our human body. $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Jul 10 '15 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Rishika I think that it is difficult to just say "we have two compounds A and B - they are likely to react in the human body". The cell has lots of machinery (such as membranes and enzymes) to make certain reactions possible and others impossible, and this is a necessary result of evolution since if we indiscriminately allowed chemicals in our body to react, many of the products would be toxic to us. Therefore biochem does not focus on "what could possibly happen between all the chemicals in the body", it focuses on "what actually does happen between them". $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Jul 10 '15 at 5:25
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    $\begingroup$ Systems biology seeks to predict just what you are talking about, computationally, without having to go into the lab. If the predictions are good, you could screen a large number of drug candidates and narrow them down to a promising few. But in the end, you can't do real chemistry in a computer and you have to make the stuff and test it. That is why it costs $2 billion per new drug application to the FDA. $\endgroup$ – iad22agp Jul 11 '15 at 3:37

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