Domain Generalization in Biosignal Classification

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2021 Jun;68(6):1978-1989. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2020.3045720. Epub 2021 May 21.


Objective: When training machine learning models, we often assume that the training data and evaluation data are sampled from the same distribution. However, this assumption is violated when the model is evaluated on another unseen but similar database, even if that database contains the same classes. This problem is caused by domain-shift and can be solved using two approaches: domain adaptation and domain generalization. Simply, domain adaptation methods can access data from unseen domains during training; whereas in domain generalization, the unseen data is not available during training. Hence, domain generalization concerns models that perform well on inaccessible, domain-shifted data.

Method: Our proposed domain generalization method represents an unseen domain using a set of known basis domains, afterwhich we classify the unseen domain using classifier fusion. To demonstrate our system, we employ a collection of heart sound databases that contain normal and abnormal sounds (classes).

Results: Our proposed classifier fusion method achieves accuracy gains of up to 16% for four completely unseen domains.

Conclusion: Recognizing the complexity induced by the inherent temporal nature of biosignal data, the two-stage method proposed in this study is able to effectively simplify the whole process of domain generalization while demonstrating good results on unseen domains and the adopted basis domains.

Significance: To our best knowledge, this is the first study that investigates domain generalization for biosignal data. Our proposed learning strategy can be used to effectively learn domain-relevant features while being aware of the class differences in the data.

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Heart Sounds*
  • Machine Learning*