A large number of papers have introduced novel machine learning and feature extraction methods for automatic classification of AD. However, they are difficult to reproduce because key components of the validation are often not readily available. These components include selected participants and input data, image preprocessing and cross-validation procedures. The performance of the different approaches is also difficult to compare objectively. In particular, it is often difficult to assess which part of the method provides a real improvement, if any. We propose a framework for reproducible and objective classification experiments in AD using three publicly available datasets (ADNI, AIBL and OASIS). The framework comprises: i) automatic conversion of the three datasets into BIDS format, ii) a modular set of preprocessing pipelines, feature extraction and classification methods, together with an evaluation framework, that provide a baseline for benchmarking the different components. We demonstrate the use of the framework for a large-scale evaluation on 1960 participants using T1 MRI and FDG PET data. In this evaluation, we assess the influence of different modalities, preprocessing, feature types, classifiers, training set sizes and datasets. Performances were in line with the state-of-the-art. FDG PET outperformed T1 MRI for all classification tasks. No difference in performance was found for the use of different atlases, image smoothing, partial volume correction of FDG PET images, or feature type. Linear SVM and L2-logistic regression resulted in similar performance and both outperformed random forests. The classification performance increased along with the number of subjects used for training. Classifiers trained on ADNI generalized well to AIBL and OASIS. All the code of the framework and the experiments is publicly available at: https://gitlab.icm-institute.org/aramislab/AD-ML.

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