Pattern Recognition in MedTech

What Is Pattern Recognition in Machine Learning: Guide for Business & Geeks

In this article, we’ll talk about the technology of pattern recognition in plain English and how this relates to the machine learning field in general.

Have you ever stopped to think about how your brain assesses the world around you? For example, when you’re looking through a multitude of Facebook posts and photos, your eyes can stop on a familiar face (despite tons of other information next to it). We are so used to pattern recognition thanks to our brains that we don’t even stop to think about what powers the technological side of it. 

In this article, we’ll talk about the technology of pattern recognition in plain English and how this relates to the machine learning field in general. We’ll also stop by in the very beginning to show what kind of business benefits pattern recognition technology brings. Why? Because unless you have a concrete goal and mission in mind for its implementation, it’s not going to be a successful launch.

Ready? Let’s dive right in.

Contents of the article:

  • Pattern recognition for business
  • Pattern recognition definition
  • How does pattern recognition work?
  • Challenges of pattern recognition
  • Business cases for pattern recognition
    • Disease detection during the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Early-stage defects and disease diagnosis
    • Understanding natural language for chatbots
    • Deciphering doctors’ handwriting
    • Exploring the universe with pattern recognition technology
    • Voice, sound, and speech recognition
    • Identifying narrow species of bugs
    • Detecting animals in the desert
    • Analyzing emotions for customer service
    • Business insights and forecasts
  • Importance of Pattern Recognition

Why pattern recognition is important for business?

Pattern recognition technology sounds like something that only relates to tech startups, but in reality, it is applicable across a wide variety of industries. Let’s focus on four key factors that pattern recognition offers business.

See opportunities

Pattern recognition allows businesses to identify both opportunities and landmines that others might not yet perceive. As a result, you gain a competitive advantage over those businesses that don’t innovate their processes.

Maximize talents

Knowing and tracking your employees’ talents and skills helps to put the right people in the right places. As a result, you maximize the output, and your employees use their strengths, which brings benefits to both parties.

Manage situations

Business owners have to do a million things at once and track all kinds of factors to make correct decisions. Pattern recognition helps to detect trends that allow managing evolving situations and people dynamically.

Find solutions

Pattern recognition also helps business owners and employees to find practical solutions quicker and prevent many recurring problems by building effective strategies. As a result, the business ROI increases.

What does pattern recognition mean?

What is pattern recognition in general? While we hear this term a lot in the IT world, it originally comes from cognitive neuroscience and psychology. 

Pattern recognition is a cognitive process that happens in our brain when we match some information that we encounter with data stored in our memory. For example, when a mom teaches her kid to count, she says, “One, two, three.” After multiple repetitions, when mom says, “One, two…”, the child can respond with “Three.” As we can see, the child recognized the pattern.

There are also pattern recognition receptors (PRR) in our body – macrophages, monocytes, etc. – cells that have a specific mission to identify and tackle pathogenic molecular patterns and damage-associated molecular patterns. But that’s biology and not technology.

What is pattern recognition in computer science? In computer science and machine learning, pattern recognition is a technology that matches the information stored in the database with the incoming data.

Sometimes people ask, “What is the difference between pattern recognition and machine learning?” The answer is simple: pattern recognition is a type of machine learning. 

The Basic Components of Pattern Recognition System

The basic components of a pattern recognition system

As you can see from the chart above, the result of the pattern recognition can be either class assignment, cluster assignment, or predicted variables. Therefore, there is no point in asking “what is the difference between pattern recognition and classification” – classification algorithm is a part of the supervised machine learning problems, where the target value is a finite set of classes.

We also have to distinguish between pattern recognition and computer vision. While these two technologies seem similar, computer vision technology mostly focuses on processing and analyzing images and visual information, such as object detection, visual-based learning, and segmentation. Pattern recognition, on the other hand, is aimed at the automated discovery of patterns in all kinds of data – visual as well as others.

There is also a term called “curse of dimensionality.” What is the curse of dimensionality in pattern recognition? 

Curse of Dimensionality in Machine Learning

This phenomenon can be found in areas such as sampling, combinatorics, data mining, and numerical analysis (among many others.) The issue here is that when the dimensionality increases, the space volume increases fast as well, and available data becomes sparse. Why is it called the dimensionality curse? Because, for statistically sound and valid results, you need a decent amount of information. 

Pattern recognition is the technology that enables the learning process. Therefore it is an integral part of the entire technique of machine learning. It empowers the algorithms to discover regularities within vast amounts of data and helps to classify them into various categories. 

How does pattern recognition work?

Pattern recognition is a process that looks at the available data and tries to see whether there are any regularities within it. There are two main parts:

  1. Explorative part, where the algorithms are looking for patterns in general
  2. Descriptive part, where the algorithms start to categorize the found patterns

Unlike with computer vision (which we discussed above), the datum for pattern recognition can be anything:

  1. Texts or words
  2. Images
  3. Sentiments (emotions)
  4. Sounds
  5. Other elements and information

The information that is gleaned from this pattern-searching process can be used for data analytics systems. This feature is especially vital for big data analytics, where the users cannot process such vast amounts of data by themselves or with the help of Excel or other similar tools. 

Here’s a simplified process of how pattern recognition works:

Simplified process of pattern recognition

As you can see from the chart above, the design of the PR system includes these three aspects: 

  • Data acquisition and preprocessing 
  • Data representation
  • Decision making

In terms of the approaches to pattern recognition, there are four main ones: 

Four approaches to pattern recognition

Each one of these approaches has its pros and cons as well as specific use cases when they are applicable. 

Check out the comparative chart below that focuses on Statistical Pattern Recognition (StatPR) vs. Syntactic Pattern Recognition (SyntPR) vs. Neural Pattern Recognition (NeurPR):

Statistical Pattern Recognition (StatPR) vs Syntactic Pattern Recognition (SyntPR) vs Neural Pattern Recognition (NeurPR)

In Statistical Pattern Recognition (StatPR), each pattern is described with the help of d features or measurements and is viewed as a point in a d-dimensional space. The goal of StatPR is to choose the features that allow pattern vectors to belong to different categories in this d-dimensional feature space.

Syntactic Pattern Recognition (SyntPR) relies on the elementary/simplest subpatterns that are called primitives (for example, letters of the alphabet). The pattern then is described in terms of the primitives’ interrelation, when they are assembled into words and sentences. There are grammatical rules that command the model, which have to be inferred from the available training samples.

Neural Pattern Recognition (NeurPR) are sizeable parallel computing systems that consist of a vast number of simple processors and many interconnections between them. The main characteristics of NN are that they can learn complex nonlinear input-output relations, use sequential training procedures, and adapt themselves to the data. 

Machine learning & pattern recognition challenges

While the process might seem deceptively straightforward and simple, there are still things you have to keep in mind when you’re considering implementing pattern recognition as a part of your business technology stack. 

  • Data processing power: if you have patients and no tight time constraints, you don’t have to worry about this too much. However, if you’ve got a big data (or near-big data) project to analyze, you better make sure your infrastructure is ready.
  • Data storage: to process a lot of information, you need to ensure that you have ample space for data storage.
  • Data quality: your training sets, as well as incoming data for the algorithms, have to come from reliable sources and not contain too much noise. (Noise, in this case, might be irrelevant information for your decision-making process. For example, do you really need to know what is your client’s favorite childhood toy in order to understand whether he runs a risk of getting a bad credit balance?)
  • Neural network opacity: pattern recognition is a great instrument for getting business insights. However, you need to account for the neural network opacity, which means you sometimes won’t be able to explain the outputs and what to do with them. Each of the results is a combination of a multitude of neurons within a vastly complex system. Don’t be discouraged, however. The more you train your algorithms, the better the results would be.

Where can pattern recognition be implemented?

Pattern recognition, as we have discovered, can be useful throughout industries and businesses. Let’s focus now on real-life business cases and see how pattern recognition help solve problems.

AAI Fighting Against COVID-19 Pandemic: K-Means Clustering & PCA

Besides the threat to public health literally around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic also affected the global economy in measures that are unprecedented in the last few decades. Thankfully, due to the developments in the area of pattern recognition technologies in the healthcare industry, we are not fighting this problem entirely with our own strengths.

Scientists Jianyong Wu and Shuying Sha used the medical data on the coronavirus pandemic within the United States of America using k-means clustering, seasonal trend decomposition, as well as spatial patterns to detect the trends and present insights into making disease control and mitigation strategies. One of the main tactics in this is to recognize the patterns of the outbreak and this is exactly where pattern recognition comes into play.

K-means clustering and PCA of COVID-19 curves in each state in the early phase (a), the middle phase (b), the late phase (c), and the whole period (d). [Source]

Another set of scientific researchers – Cheng-Pin Kuo and Joshua Fu – have focused their particular studies on evaluating the impact of mobility on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Considering the various countries’ approaches to partial and full lockdowns, social distancing and limitations, schools’ moving online, etc., many businesses and people have protested since this state of affairs dramatically affected their lives. Many businesses had to shut down, many people lost their jobs, and numerous students’ grades and overall education quality fell down. The policy of no lockdowns or restrictions also proved to be a losing strategy, as shown by Sweden which ended in a near disaster in the pandemic just like the other countries and in some cases, even worse.

How to protect both economy and people’s health? That’s what the researchers explored.

“Meanwhile, our model was successfully built up, and the scenario assessment results indicated that compared with Phase I re-opening, a 1-week and a 2-week lockdown could reduce 4%-29% and 15%-55% infections, respectively, in the future week, while 2-week Phase III re-opening could increase 16%-80% infections. We concluded that the mandatory orders in metropolitan counties such lockdown should last longer than one week, the effect could be observed.” [Source]

Computer-Aided Diagnosis (Cad) Systems for Healthcare

Medical science is one of the most important areas where pattern recognition technology can literally save lives. It is the foundation for computer-aided diagnosis systems, which help doctors understand how to proceed with treatments. 

In a new Canadian study as fresh as June 2022, scientists from the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine departments and Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) have successfully implemented AI for detecting birth defects at an early stage.

The AI model was used to look for cystic hygroma, a dangerous and life-threatening condition. Through the analysis of ultrasound scans, the researchers found that the artificial intelligence model accurately identified the condition in 93% of cases.

Identifying image annotations on a normal NT scan.
(A) Image annotations included calipers, text, icons, and profile traces, all of which were removed prior to model training. (B) 3D Scatter Plot of HSV image data. Each point represents one image pixel and its associated HSV values. The red region highlights the range of values that do not belong to the grayscale ultrasound image. The area encircled in green shows pixel values that belong to the grayscale ultrasound image. Grayscale images had H, S, and V values ranging from 0–27, 0–150, and 0–255, respectively. [Source: PLOS ONE]

In another research published at the beginning of 2019, a group of medical researchers applied machine learning and pattern recognition to detect various types of cancer in patients at an early stage.

Diagnosing WBC and Cancer Cell Lines with the help of pattern recognition

[Source: Research]

With the help of such biomedical/medical imaging, a group of Japanese scientists was able to identify five types of cancer cell lines – SW480, DLD-1, HCT116, Panc-1, and HepG2 (in the image above). The green color highlights white blood cells’ size distributions and red bars show cell lines. This work, among many similar projects in the healthcare system, is a step toward automated diagnosis and disease prevention. 

A computer vision technology, trained by machine learning and pattern recognition, automatically recognizes and classifies white blood cells and tissue as healthy or sick. In order to double-check the results, they created an additional SVM classifier and trained it using a set of statistics of subcellular structures. According to the research authors, “This label-free, non-cytotoxic cell classification based on the subcellular structure of QPM images has the potential to serve as an automated diagnosis of single cells.“

Natural Language Processing (Nlp) For Chatbots and Working With Texts

NLP is a field of machine learning that focuses on getting computers to understand the meaning of human language as well as compose messages. 

Natural Language processing

This technology is especially vital for businesses that work with words. An excellent example of NLP at work is Grammarly – a powerful tool for correcting typos and grammar as well as enhancing the general feel of the message. We use Grammarly here at HUSPI, and we are in love with this product. 

Google Translate is another example of Natural Language Processing at work. Besides text analysis and word substitution, the algorithms also rely on sentiment analysis as well as context, in order to create the translation that would match the original the best. 

Natural Language Processing technology can also be used for content categorization, topic discovery for content marketing, plagiarism detection, as well as text generation. 

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Explains What the Doctor Wrote

Optical Character Recognition technology deals with recognizing visual text – whether handwritten or printed – and its conversion into editable text. It is a combination of technologies such as machine learning, pattern recognition, and artificial intelligence. 

With the help of OCR, you can store the information more compactly, and easily search for the necessary entry without having to dig through tons of papers, etc. This data can even be a training dataset for other kinds of machine learning algorithms. The most common example of OCR would be the digitization of scanned documents or signature verification. 

Optical Character Recognition technology is used as a way to enter information from non-digital resources – such as bank statements, passport information, invoices, business cards, or any other documentation. 

One of the examples, where this technology is quite helpful is image extraction from handwritten medical forms. If you have ever tried to decipher what your doctor wrote, you’ll understand the importance of this. For example, here is a research project that was done by Robert Milewski and Venu Govindaraju using a New York State (NYS) Department of Health (DoH) Pre-Hospital Care Report (PCR.)

Various versions of the script [Source: Science Direct]
Researching the script and identifying marks [Source: Science Direct]
Binarization and cleanup of handwritten text from carbon copy medical form images [Source: Science Direct]

At HUSPI, we have created software that can recognize the information on a receipt from a store or restaurant (or anywhere else where you can get receipts), categorize it, and place it in its matching place in the database. This is a convenient tool for bookkeeping and accounting that automates the process and gets rid of the mindless copy-pasting of numbers. 

Google Translate app is an excellent case of the OCR at work. With the help of your phone camera, you can get a translation of the text in front of you. For example, you’re in a foreign city, and you don’t understand what the sign says. Train your camera onto the sign, but instead of taking a picture, get a direct translation.

Google translate app

What are the other examples of OCR? Google Handwriting Input app is one of them. ABBYY’s FineReader PDF is another great example that simplifies the work with PDF documents, making them editable. 

Exploring the universe with pattern recognition technology

Galileo and many other astronomers and scientists started small. They looked up, tried to count the stars, and made their assumptions based on the little data they could observe. However, those days are over and relatively “close” objects have been studied. Astronomers these days are tasking themselves with objects, some of which are located in other galaxies and some are located near the edge of the visible universe.

How do you study all that? Simply looking at the data that you’ve got will only take you so far. Therefore, pattern recognition is very useful in astronomy since it allows us to notice the minute details of the star and planet formations, allowing the scientists to focus on making sense of the data they’ve got on hand.

For example, there are different types of galaxies and their evolution heavily depends on it. Our Milky Way is a spiral galaxy – what will its end be like? What should our future generations expect? What should we prepare for? By studying other older galaxies of the same form (along with other forms as well), we can start to answer those questions.

Example of galaxy morphology [Source: caltech.edu]

Sound / Voice / Speech Recognition

Voice and Speech Recognition technology has become especially widespread thanks to AI assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s OK Google, and Microsoft’s Cortana.

This technology is similar to optical character recognition, but instead of the printed or handwritten text, your source of data is the spoken word. It can be used for speech-to-text translation as well as automatic subtitling (YouTube and Facebook both offer this service for the videos uploaded to their platforms.)

According to the research done in the Voice Search field, the forecast for 2020 is that 30-50% of users will rely on it for their daily activities. Adobe has conducted a survey in the United States, and here are the reasons people said they use voice search:

Adobe research voice recognition and voice search

As you can see, voice search can be applied virtually to any business – be it e-commerce, the hospitality sector, or food delivery. The good news is also that you do not have to create your own AI assistant, but it would be wise to consider integration with Siri (for example). The iOS 13 offers convenient conversational shortcuts that can help your customers do more with your business using just their voice and their phone. Why do we need pattern recognition here? To simplify the experience and make it straightforward.

For example, when a user says, “Order takeout,” Siri can ask, “Which order would you like?” and present a list of favorite orders to choose from a food ordering app.” (Apple Website)

Another industry that benefits from Sound Recognition pattern recognition algorithms is the automotive industry. For example, you can use your phone to record the sounds your car’s engine makes and run a sound-based diagnosis to understand what’s wrong and how to fix it. 

Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) for Insects Identification

CNNs are often used for image recognition. A group of researchers has been actively training a CNN for identifying various insects. For many, this would look like a very useless and trivial task. However, rapid and reliable identification of various insects is critical in many cases when you need to detect invasive species or disease vectors.

Many of the insects are very similar and even for professionals, it’s hard to distinguish between them at times. Here’s where the convolutional neural network comes in handy.

It’s one thing to say whether it’s a butterfly or a bug. It’s another to say what particular species of bugs that is. Here’s where AI is helping. [Source: Oxford Academic]

Image Pattern Recognition (IPR) For Identification of Visual Objects

Face recognition and visual search are among the two top uses for image pattern recognition (IPR). It is similar to OCR, but instead of recognizing and transcribing textual characters, it describes pictures, so they can become searchable. 

A group of biologists and researchers have worked together on one of the applications for image pattern recognition – animal recognition in the Mojave Desert.

In order to keep track of the animals and run analytics on the populace, they created a machine learning algorithm that detects the animals among the brush and classifies them according to their characteristics.

In the image below, you can see a white-tailed antelope squirrel that is a few pixels wide on the picture and isn’t facing the camera. Without the highlight around it, it is hard for the human eye to detect the animal at all from a still frame among the shadows and vegetation that looks just like the animal. 

The goal of the algorithm is to recognize the animal, which can be any of the creatures found in the Mojave desert – squirrels, tortoises, bobcats, coyotes, etc. 

Looking for animals with the help of pattern recognition

Looking for animals in the desert is not the only application for image pattern recognition technology. E-commerce marketplaces and search engines also use it for visual search options. For example, you can search for something by uploading a picture to Google or Amazon. 

IPR is also used by Facebook for tagging the appropriate people in the photos as well as by law enforcement organizations to find fugitives or persons of interest.

Sentiment Analysis for Identifying Emotions

The mood, opinion, and intent can also be a part of the training dataset for machine learning and pattern recognition in particular. Besides simply recognizing the face of a person, the algorithm’s purpose is to define the nature of the facial expression and what it means.

The algorithms analyze the criteria and visual aids to classify the emotions into positive or negative, angry or happy, fearful, surprised, etc. This information helps business owners and marketing specialists, especially to identify the critical points to work on. 

Sentiment analysis has many applications – it can be used in customer service, recommendation engines, audience research, content optimization, and others. 

One of the research projects focused on studying the action units of the upper and lower face and their correspondence with various emotions. (If you have watched the TV Show Lie to Me, this is the groundwork for that.)

Examples of Facial Action Coding System (FACS) Action Units (AUs) [Source: Frontliners]

SalesForce’s Einstein Platform is implementing this technology into its products to provide a better User Experience to its customers. 

Two Hat Security also uses sentiment analysis for content moderation, specifically for detecting toxicity (i.e., hateful speech, bullying, or abuse) in online communication and content. As a result, this helps to make the Internet a safer and happier place.

Read about their research here.

Big Data Analytics for Insights & Forecasts

Last on our list, but not least, is data analytics and pattern recognition. 

We left this topic for the end of our article on purpose because Data Analytics – especially Big Data Analytics – is one of the central and primary uses for Pattern Recognition technology. 

[Source: @GapingVoid Group]

Usual data can be analyzed with the help of Excel or other more advanced tools. To analyze Big Data, however, you need the help of machine learning and pattern recognition. This can be used in such industries as stock market forecasting, AdTech, and MarTech businesses where the events/day can reach several million items and others.

Google Analytics and their Insights are also an example of pattern recognition technology in action because it doesn’t merely track what happens on your website or mobile app, but also shows spikes and possible reasons for it. 

You might also be interested: Introduction to Machine Learning Algorithms for Beginners

Why Is Pattern Recognition Important?

After we wrote an enormous article, the question remains: “Why do we use pattern recognition?”

The answer is simple – we have so much information all around us that we need help to pay attention only to what matters.

  • Instead of watching your website’s visitor statistics day and night, you can use Google Analytics Insights to check whether there were any suspicious spikes.
  • Instead of looking for Waldo the Squirrel in the Mojave desert, you can run an algorithm that would spot that animal in a matter of minutes (if not seconds).
  • Instead of walking around a foreign European city with a thick dictionary, you can point your camera at the sign or a restaurant menu and understand what’s written there.

Pattern recognition technology simplifies the analytics results and provides a reliable source for Business Intelligence Insights, which are a critical thing for organizations and the decision-making process.

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