Improving Active Learning Performance Through the Use of Data Augmentation

Published in International Journal of Intelligent Systems, 2023

Recommended citation: Fonseca, J., & Bacao, F. (2023). Improving Active Learning Performance through the Use of Data Augmentation. International Journal of Intelligent Systems, 2023.

Active learning (AL) is a well-known technique to optimize data usage in training, through the interactive selection of unlabeled observations, out of a large pool of unlabeled data, to be labeled by a supervisor. Its focus is to find the unlabeled observations that, once labeled, will maximize the informativeness of the training dataset, therefore reducing data-related costs. The literature describes several methods to improve the effectiveness of this process. Nonetheless, there is a paucity of research developed around the application of artificial data sources in AL, especially outside image classification or NLP. This paper proposes a new AL framework, which relies on the effective use of artificial data. It may be used with any classifier, generation mechanism, and data type and can be integrated with multiple other state-of-the-art AL contributions. This combination is expected to increase the ML classifier’s performance and reduce both the supervisor’s involvement and the amount of required labeled data at the expense of a marginal increase in computational time. The proposed method introduces a hyperparameter optimization component to improve the generation of artificial instances during the AL process as well as an uncertainty-based data generation mechanism. We compare the proposed method to the standard framework and an oversampling-based active learning method for more informed data generation in an AL context. The models’ performance was tested using four different classifiers, two AL-specific performance metrics, and three classification performance metrics over 15 different datasets. We demonstrated that the proposed framework, using data augmentation, significantly improved the performance of AL, both in terms of classification performance and data selection efficiency (all the codes and preprocessed data developed for this study are available at

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