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Task-Specific Fine-Tuning via Variational Information Bottleneck for Weakly-Supervised Pathology Whole Slide Image Classification

Honglin Li · Chenglu Zhu · Yunlong Zhang · Yuxuan Sun · Zhongyi Shui · Wenwei Kuang · Sunyi Zheng · Lin Yang

West Building Exhibit Halls ABC 318


While Multiple Instance Learning (MIL) has shown promising results in digital Pathology Whole Slide Image (WSI) analysis, such a paradigm still faces performance and generalization problems due to high computational costs and limited supervision of Gigapixel WSIs. To deal with the computation problem, previous methods utilize a frozen model pretrained from ImageNet to obtain representations, however, it may lose key information owing to the large domain gap and hinder the generalization ability without image-level training-time augmentation. Though Self-supervised Learning (SSL) proposes viable representation learning schemes, the downstream task-specific features via partial label tuning are not explored. To alleviate this problem, we propose an efficient WSI fine-tuning framework motivated by the Information Bottleneck theory. The theory enables the framework to find the minimal sufficient statistics of WSI, thus supporting us to fine-tune the backbone into a task-specific representation only depending on WSI-level weak labels. The WSI-MIL problem is further analyzed to theoretically deduce our fine-tuning method. We evaluate the method on five pathological WSI datasets on various WSI heads. The experimental results show significant improvements in both accuracy and generalization compared with previous works. Source code will be available at

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