Journal of Medical and Biological Engineering

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 569–582 | Cite as

Mammographic Image Classification System via Active Learning

  • Yu Zhao
  • Dong Chen
  • Hongzhi XieEmail author
  • Shuyang Zhang
  • Lixu GuEmail author
Original Article


Training an accurate prediction model for mammographic image classification is usually necessary to require a large number of labeled images. However, the manually acquiring rich and reliable annotations is known to be tedious and time-consuming process, especially for medical image. The advances in machine learning yielded a branch of technique, termed active learning (AL), which has been proposed for solving the problem of the limited training samples and expensive labeling cost, and has resulted in highly successful applications in many pattern recognition tasks such as image processing and speech recognition. In this article, a comparison is provided among the mammographic image classification systems, relying on traditional supervised learning, un-supervised learning and AL, aiming to obtain a system with low labeling cost. The experiments based on digital database for screening mammography demonstrate that the AL is able to minimize the labeling cost of mammographic image without sacrificing the accuracy of final classification system. In addition, some specific characteristics of mammographic image: file information and spatial feature, which are not available to the traditional AL methods, have been found to further decrease the labeling cost. In conclusion, we suggest that the AL is a reasonable alternative to supervised learning for the researchers in the field of medical image classification with limited experimental conditions.


Image classification Active learning Mammography Labeling cost 



This research is partially supported by the National Key Research Program of China (2016YFC0106200), the 863 national research fund (2015AA043203) of China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81301283, 61190124 and 61271318), and the special funding of capital health research and development with No. 2016-1-4011. The authors are grateful to the Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of South Florida, and Sandia National Laboratories, which provides DDSM as a resource for our experimental data. We also express our sincere gratitude towards Department of Computer Science in University of North Carolina at Charlotte for their free tech support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.

Ethical Approval

The study doesn’t involve human or animal subjects.

Supplementary material

40846_2018_437_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (1001 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 1001 kb)


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Copyright information

© Taiwanese Society of Biomedical Engineering 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Image Guided Surgery and Virtual Reality Lab, School of Biomedical EngineeringShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of CardiologyPeking Union Medical College HospitalBeijingChina

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