A Petri Dish for Histopathology Image Analysis

With the rise of deep learning, there has been increased interest in using neural networks for histopathology image analysis, a field that investigates the properties of biopsy or resected specimens traditionally manually examined under a microscope by pathologists. However, challenges such as limited data, costly annotation, and processing high-resolution and variable-size images make it difficult to quickly iterate over model designs. Throughout scientific history, many significant research directions have leveraged small-scale experimental setups as petri dishes to efficiently evaluate exploratory ideas. In this paper, we introduce a minimalist histopathology image analysis dataset (MHIST), an analogous petri dish for histopathology image analysis. MHIST is a binary classification dataset of 3,152 fixed-size images of colorectal polyps, each with a gold-standard label determined by the majority vote of seven board-certified gastrointestinal pathologists and annotator agreement level. MHIST occupies less than 400 MB of disk space, and a ResNet-18 baseline can be trained to convergence on MHIST in just 6 minutes using 3.5 GB of memory on a NVIDIA RTX 3090. As example use cases, we use MHIST to study natural questions such as how dataset size, network depth, transfer learning, and high-disagreement examples affect model performance. By introducing MHIST, we hope to not only help facilitate the work of current histopathology imaging researchers, but also make the field more-accessible to the general community. Our dataset is available at https://bmirds.github.io/MHIST.

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