Improving skin cancer classification using heavy-tailed student t-distribution in generative adversarial networks (Ted-gan)

Bilal Ahmad, Sun Jun, Vasile Palade, Qi You, Li Mao, Mao Zhongjie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


Deep learning has gained immense attention from researchers in medicine, especially in medical imaging. The main bottleneck is the unavailability of sufficiently large medical datasets required for the good performance of deep learning models. This paper proposes a new framework consisting of one variational autoencoder (VAE), two generative adversarial networks, and one auxiliary classifier to artificially generate realistic-looking skin lesion images and improve classification performance. We first train the encoder-decoder network to obtain the latent noise vector with the image manifold’s information and let the generative adversarial network sample the input from this informative noise vector in order to generate the skin lesion images. The use of informative noise allows the GAN to avoid mode collapse and creates faster convergence. To improve the diversity in the generated images, we use another GAN with an auxiliary classifier, which samples the noise vector from a heavy-tailed student t-distribution instead of a random noise Gaussian distribution. The proposed framework was named TED-GAN, with T from the t-distribution and ED from the encoder-decoder network which is part of the solution. The proposed framework could be used in a broad range of areas in medical imaging. We used it here to generate skin lesion images and have obtained an improved classification performance on the skin lesion classification task, rising from 66% average accuracy to 92.5%. The results show that TED-GAN has a better impact on the classification task because of its diverse range of generated images due to the use of a heavy-tailed t-distribution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2147
Number of pages16
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/).


National Natural Science Foundation of China (Projects Numbers: 61673194, 61672263, 61672265), and in part by the national first-class discipline program of Light Industry Technology and Engineering (Project Number: LITE2018-25).


  • Convolutional neural networks
  • Deep learning
  • GANs
  • Generative adversarial networks
  • Heavy-tailed distribution
  • Informative noise vector
  • Melanoma detection
  • Skin cancer classification
  • Student t-distribution
  • T-distribution
  • VAE
  • Variational autoencoder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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