Federated learning (FL) enables collaborative model training while preserving each participant's privacy, which is particularly beneficial to the medical field. FedAvg is a standard algorithm that uses fixed weights, often originating from the dataset sizes at each client, to aggregate the distributed learned models on a server during the FL process. However, non-identical data distribution across clients, known as the non-i.i.d problem in FL, could make this assumption for setting fixed aggregation weights sub-optimal. In this work, we design a new data-driven approach, namely Auto-FedAvg, where aggregation weights are dynamically adjusted, depending on data distributions across data silos and the current training progress of the models. We disentangle the parameter set into two parts, local model parameters and global aggregation parameters, and update them iteratively with a communication-efficient algorithm. We first show the validity of our approach by outperforming state-of-the-art FL methods for image recognition on a heterogeneous data split of CIFAR-10. Furthermore, we demonstrate our algorithm's effectiveness on two multi-institutional medical image analysis tasks, i.e., COVID-19 lesion segmentation in chest CT and pancreas segmentation in abdominal CT.
The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has led to urgent needs for reliable diagnosis and management of SARS-CoV-2 infection. As a complimentary tool, chest CT has been shown to be able to reveal visual patterns characteristic for COVID-19, which has definite value at several stages during the disease course. To facilitate CT analysis, recent efforts have focused on computer-aided characterization and diagnosis, which has shown promising results. However, domain shift of data across clinical data centers poses a serious challenge when deploying learning-based models. In this work, we attempt to find a solution for this challenge via federated and semi-supervised learning. A multi-national database consisting of 1704 scans from three countries is adopted to study the performance gap, when training a model with one dataset and applying it to another. Expert radiologists manually delineated 945 scans for COVID-19 findings. In handling the variability in both the data and annotations, a novel federated semi-supervised learning technique is proposed to fully utilize all available data (with or without annotations). Federated learning avoids the need for sensitive data-sharing, which makes it favorable for institutions and nations with strict regulatory policy on data privacy. Moreover, semi-supervision potentially reduces the annotation burden under a distributed setting. The proposed framework is shown to be effective compared to fully supervised scenarios with conventional data sharing instead of model weight sharing.