Keywords: [ Few Shot Learning ]
Few-shot learning is an established topic in natural images for years, but few work is attended to histology images, which is of high clinical value since well-labeled datasets and rare abnormal samples are expensive to collect. Here, we facilitate the study of few-shot learning in histology images by setting up three cross-domain tasks that simulate real clinics problems. To enable label-efficient learning and better generalizability, we propose to incorporate contrastive learning (CL) with latent augmentation (LA) to build a few-shot system. CL learns useful representations without manual labels, while LA transfers semantic variations of the base dataset in an unsupervised way. These two components fully exploit unlabeled training data and can scale gracefully to other label-hungry problems. In experiments, we find i) models learned by CL generalize better than supervised learning for histology images in unseen classes, and ii) LA brings consistent gains over baselines. Prior studies of self-supervised learning mainly focus on ImageNet-like images, which only present a dominant object in their centers. Recent attention has been paid to images with multi-objects and multi-textures. Histology images are a natural choice for such a study. We show the superiority of CL over supervised learning in terms of generalization for such data and provide our empirical understanding for this observation. The findings in this work could contribute to understanding how the model generalizes in the context of both representation learning and histological image analysis. Code is available.