Few Is Enough: Task-Augmented Active Meta-Learning for Brain Cell Classification

Deep Neural Networks (or DNNs) must constantly cope with distribution changes in the input data when the task of interest or the data collection protocol changes. Retraining a network from scratch to combat this issue poses a significant cost... Meta-learning aims to deliver an adaptive model that is sensitive to these underlying distribution changes, but requires many tasks during the meta-training process. In this paper, we propose a tAsk-auGmented actIve meta-LEarning (AGILE) method to efficiently adapt DNNs to new tasks by using a small number of training examples. AGILE combines a meta-learning algorithm with a novel task augmentation technique which we use to generate an initial adaptive model. It then uses Bayesian dropout uncertainty estimates to actively select the most difficult samples when updating the model to a new task. This allows AGILE to learn with fewer tasks and a few informative samples, achieving high performance with a limited dataset. We perform our experiments using the brain cell classification task and compare the results to a plain meta-learning model trained from scratch. We show that the proposed task-augmented meta-learning framework can learn to classify new cell types after a single gradient step with a limited number of training samples. We show that active learning with Bayesian uncertainty can further improve the performance when the number of training samples is extremely small. Using only 1% of the training data and a single update step, we achieved 90% accuracy on the new cell type classification task, a 50% points improvement over a state-of-the-art meta-learning algorithm. read more

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