Crossover based technique for data augmentation

Comput Methods Programs Biomed. 2022 May;218:106716. doi: 10.1016/j.cmpb.2022.106716. Epub 2022 Feb 28.


Background and objective: Medical image classification problems are frequently constrained by the availability of datasets. "Data augmentation" has come as a data enhancement and data enrichment solution to the challenge of limited data. Traditionally data augmentation techniques are based on linear and label preserving transformations; however, recent works have demonstrated that even non-linear, non-label preserving techniques can be unexpectedly effective. This paper proposes a non-linear data augmentation technique for the medical domain and explores its results.

Methods: This paper introduces "Crossover technique", a new data augmentation technique for Convolutional Neural Networks in Medical Image Classification problems. Our technique synthesizes a pair of samples by applying two-point crossover on the already available training dataset. By this technique, we create N new samples from N training samples. The proposed crossover based data augmentation technique, although non-label preserving, has performed significantly better in terms of increased accuracy and reduced loss for all the tested datasets over varied architectures.

Results: The proposed method was tested on three publicly available medical datasets with various network architectures. For the mini-MIAS database of mammograms, our method improved the accuracy by 1.47%, achieving 80.15% using VGG-16 architecture. Our method works fine for both gray-scale as well as RGB images, as on the PH2 database for Skin Cancer, it improved the accuracy by 3.57%, achieving 85.71% using VGG-19 architecture. In addition, our technique improved accuracy on the brain tumor dataset by 0.40%, achieving 97.97% using VGG-16 architecture.

Conclusion: The proposed novel crossover technique for training the Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) is painless to implement by applying two-point crossover on two images to form new images. The method would go a long way in tackling the challenges of limited datasets and problems of class imbalances in medical image analysis. Our code is available at

Keywords: Crossover; Data augmentation; Image classification.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms*
  • Data Management
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Neural Networks, Computer*