DOI: 10.3390/rs15174278 ISSN:

Advantages of Using Transfer Learning Technology with a Quantative Measurement

Emilia Hattula, Lingli Zhu, Jere Raninen, Juha Oksanen, Juha Hyyppä
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

The number of people living in cities is continuously growing, and the buildings in topographic maps are in need of frequent updates, which are costly to perform manually. This makes automatic building extraction a significant research subject. Transfer learning, on the other hand, offers solutions in situations where the data of a target area are scarce, making it a profitable research subject. Moreover, in previous studies, there was a lack of metrics in quantifying the accuracy improvement with transfer learning techniques. This paper investigated various transfer learning techniques and their combinations with U-Net for the semantic segmentation of buildings from true orthophotos. The results were analyzed using quantitative methods. Open-source remote sensing data from Poland were used for pretraining a model for building segmentation. The fine-tuning techniques including a fine-tuning contracting path, a fine-tuning expanding path, a retraining contracting path, and a retraining expanding path were studied. These fine-tuning techniques and their combinations were tested with three local datasets from the diverse environment in Finland: urban, suburban, and rural areas. Knowledge from the pretrained model was transferred to the local datasets from Helsinki (urban), Kajaani (suburban), and selected areas in Finland (rural area). Three models with no transfer learning were trained from scratch with three sets of local data to compare the fine-tuning results. Our experiment focused on how various transfer learning techniques perform on datasets from different environments (urban, suburban, and rural areas) and multiple locations (southern, northern, and across Finland). A quantitative assessment of performance improvement by using transfer learning techniques was conducted. Despite the differences in datasets, the results showed that using transfer learning techniques could achieve at least 5% better accuracy than a model trained from scratch with several different transfer learning techniques. In addition, the effect of the sizes of training datasets was also studied.

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