Rethinking Transfer Learning for Medical Image Classification

9 Jun 2021  ·  Le Peng, Hengyue Liang, Gaoxiang Luo, Taihui Li, Ju Sun ·

Transfer learning (TL) from pretrained deep models is a standard practice in modern medical image classification (MIC). However, what levels of features to be reused are problem-dependent, and uniformly finetuning all layers of pretrained models may be suboptimal. This insight has partly motivated the recent \emph{differential} TL strategies, such as TransFusion (TF) and layer-wise finetuning (LWFT), which treat the layers in the pretrained models differentially. In this paper, we add one more strategy into this family, called \emph{TruncatedTL}, which reuses and finetunes appropriate bottom layers and directly discards the remaining layers. This yields not only superior MIC performance but also compact models for efficient inference, compared to other differential TL methods. We validate the performance and model efficiency of TruncatedTL on three MIC tasks covering both 2D and 3D images. For example, on the BIMCV COVID-19 classification dataset, we obtain improved performance with around $1/4$ model size and $2/3$ inference time compared to the standard full TL model. Code is available at

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