aspiring model

Anyone else read about Brittany Wenger, the 17 year old who won the Google Science Fair grand prize?  Her prize winning project is a neural network app that analyzes breast lump fine needle aspirate to diagnose breast cancer.  From the summary on her project blog:

The successfully implemented custom network is tested with 6,800 trials.  To assure maximum training, each sample is run through ten trials evaluated by different networks trained against all other samples.  The custom neural network achieved predictive success of 97.4% with 99.1% sensitivity to malignancy – substantially better than the evaluated commercial products.  Out of the commercial products, two experienced consistent success while the third experienced erratic success. The sensitivity to malignancy for the custom network was 5% higher than the best commercial network’s sensitivity. This experiment demonstrates modern neural networks can handle outliers and work with unmodified datasets to identify patterns. In addition, when all data is used for training, the custom network achieves 100% success with only 4 inconclusive samples, proving the network is more effective with more samples.

Aside from being thrilled that a 17 year old girl has kicked some serious ass and represented for all us “girls” in the too long male dominated field of science, I am quite literally tearing up thinking “Yes, this is exactly the sort of approach that needs to be developed for medical diagnostics!”  We have so many streams of data, so many bits of information, and too often each bit is considered separately, sometimes even by separate doctors.  Models which can include these multiple parameters, which do not discard “noise” but which include outliers are desperately needed.  They are more powerful and sensitive than how we currently do things, and it makes sense to develop and use them.  I’m excited to see this innovation.  Go Brittany!

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2 Comments

  1. That is amazing. The things they’ll be able to do in the future…

    Congrats on the new job!

    M

    Reply

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