Many-to-One Distribution Learning and K-Nearest Neighbor Smoothing for Thoracic Disease Identification


  • Yi Zhou Southeast University, Nanjing, China
  • Lei Huang Beihang University, Beijing, China
  • Tianfei Zhou ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • Ling Shao Inception Institute of Artificial Intelligence, Abu Dhabi, UAE


Healthcare, Medicine & Wellness


Chest X-rays are an important and accessible clinical imaging tool for the detection of many thoracic diseases. Over the past decade, deep learning, with a focus on the convolutional neural network (CNN), has become the most powerful computer-aided diagnosis technology for improving disease identification performance. However, training an effective and robust deep CNN usually requires a large amount of data with high annotation quality. For chest X-ray imaging, annotating large-scale data requires professional domain knowledge and is time-consuming. Thus, existing public chest X-ray datasets usually adopt language pattern based methods to automatically mine labels from reports. However, this results in label uncertainty and inconsistency. In this paper, we propose many-to-one distribution learning (MODL) and K-nearest neighbor smoothing (KNNS) methods from two perspectives to improve a single model's disease identification performance, rather than focusing on an ensemble of models. MODL integrates multiple models to obtain a soft label distribution for optimizing the single target model, which can reduce the effects of original label uncertainty. Moreover, KNNS aims to enhance the robustness of the target model to provide consistent predictions on images with similar medical findings. Extensive experiments on the public NIH Chest X-ray and CheXpert datasets show that our model achieves consistent improvements over the state-of-the-art methods.




How to Cite

Zhou, Y., Huang, L., Zhou, T., & Shao, L. (2021). Many-to-One Distribution Learning and K-Nearest Neighbor Smoothing for Thoracic Disease Identification. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 35(1), 768-776. Retrieved from



AAAI Technical Track on Application Domains