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Compare Jplace Files


Takes two jplace files with the same reference tree and compares the placement of each Pquery. It outputs tables that show which and how Pqueries differ in their placement on the tree.

This demo is located at



This program is useful to compare two jplace files that were computed with different settings or even different programs (EPA or pplacer). It is not meant for evaluating differences in the microbial communities that are represented by the input. Instead, it is meant for files that share Pqueries (identified by their names), and gives information about differences between the Placements in those Pqueries.

The program takes two input jplace file paths as input. It compares the Pqueries and their Placements and prints two tables:

  1. An overview table that lists all Pqueries of the two files that have a PqueryName in common. This table indicates whether the top Placement (the one with the highest like_weight_ratio) of both Pqueries is the same (i.e., is located at the same branch); it furthermore indicates whether all Placements (sorted by their like_weight_ratio) are the same, that is, if they are located on the same branches. Lastly, the difference in log-likelhood and the Earth Movers Distance between the Pqueries is printed.
  2. A detail table that lists all Placements of the Pqueries that were marked invalid in the overview table - that is, if either the top rank or any other placement was not equally placed in a Pquery. This table lists the Placements for such Pqueries, sorted by their like_weight_ratio, and shows on which branches (edge_num) they are placed in the two Pqueries. If the Placements are on the same branch, they are considered correct.

The program expects that the reference Trees of the input are topologically identical. In order to compensate for differences in branch lengths, both Trees are normalized in the beginning, so that their length (sum of branch lengths) is 1.0. This also means that the Earth Movers Distance yields comparable values in the range [ 0.0, 1.0 ].


Example files to test the demo are located at


This directory contains two jplace files jplace_a.jplace and jplace_b.jplace.

After compiling the demo program (using make update), you can run the example like this

cd genesis/doc/demos/compare_jplace_files/
../../../bin/compare_jplace_files jplace_a.jplace jplace_b.jplace

The expected output are two tables with information about the Pqueries in those two files.