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We present an efficient algorithm for statistical multiple alignment based on the TKF91 model of Thorne, Kishino, and Felsenstein (1991) on an arbitrary k-leaved phylogenetic tree. The existing algorithms use a hidden Markov model approach, which requires at least O( radical 5(k)) states and leads to a time complexity of O(5(k)L(k)), where L is the geometric mean sequence length. Using a combinatorial technique reminiscent of inclusion/exclusion, we are able to sum away the states, thus improving the time complexity to O(2(k)L(k)) and considerably reducing memory requirements. This makes statistical multiple alignment under the TKF91 model a definite practical possibility in the case of a phylogenetic tree with a modest number of leaves.

Original publication




Journal article


J Comput Biol

Publication Date





869 - 889


Algorithms, Amino Acid Sequence, Base Sequence, Computational Biology, Evolution, Molecular, Markov Chains, Phylogeny, Sequence Alignment, Stochastic Processes