Feature Re-calibration based MIL for Whole Slide Image Classification

by   Philip Chikontwe, et al.

Whole slide image (WSI) classification is a fundamental task for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases; but, curation of accurate labels is time-consuming and limits the application of fully-supervised methods. To address this, multiple instance learning (MIL) is a popular method that poses classification as a weakly supervised learning task with slide-level labels only. While current MIL methods apply variants of the attention mechanism to re-weight instance features with stronger models, scant attention is paid to the properties of the data distribution. In this work, we propose to re-calibrate the distribution of a WSI bag (instances) by using the statistics of the max-instance (critical) feature. We assume that in binary MIL, positive bags have larger feature magnitudes than negatives, thus we can enforce the model to maximize the discrepancy between bags with a metric feature loss that models positive bags as out-of-distribution. To achieve this, unlike existing MIL methods that use single-batch training modes, we propose balanced-batch sampling to effectively use the feature loss i.e., (+/-) bags simultaneously. Further, we employ a position encoding module (PEM) to model spatial/morphological information, and perform pooling by multi-head self-attention (PSMA) with a Transformer encoder. Experimental results on existing benchmark datasets show our approach is effective and improves over state-of-the-art MIL methods.


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