Why is the winner the best?

Matthias Eisenmann, Annika Reinke, Vivienn Weru , Minu Dietlinde Tizabi, Fabian Isensee, Tim J. Adler, Sharib Ali, Vincent Andrearczyk, Marc Aubreville, Ujjwal Baid, Spyridon Bakas, Niranjan Balu, Sophia Bano , Jorge Bernal , Sebastian Bodenstedt, Alessandro Casella, Veronika Cheplygina

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


International benchmarking competitions have become
fundamental for the comparative performance assessment
of image analysis methods. However, little attention has
been given to investigating what can be learnt from these
competitions. Do they really generate scientific progress?
What are common and successful participation strategies?
What makes a solution superior to a competing method?
To address this gap in the literature, we performed a multi-
center study with all 80 competitions that were conducted in
the scope of IEEE ISBI 2021 and MICCAI 2021. Statistical
analyses performed based on comprehensive descriptions of
the submitted algorithms linked to their rank as well as the
underlying participation strategies revealed common char-
acteristics of winning solutions. These typically include
the use of multi-task learning (63%) and/or multi-stage
pipelines (61%), and a focus on augmentation (100%), im-
age preprocessing (97%), data curation (79%), and post-
processing (66%). The “typical” lead of a winning team
is a computer scientist with a doctoral degree, five years of
experience in biomedical image analysis, and four years of
experience in deep learning. Two core general development
strategies stood out for highly-ranked teams: the reflection
of the metrics in the method design and the focus on analyz-
ing and handling failure cases. According to the organizers,
43% of the winning algorithms exceeded the state of the art
but only 11% completely solved the respective domain prob-
lem. The insights of our study could help researchers (1)
improve algorithm development strategies when approach-
ing new problems, and (2) focus on open research questions
revealed by this work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the CVPR conference
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event2023 IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) - Vancouver Convention Center , Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 18 Jun 202322 Jun 2023


Conference2023 IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)
LocationVancouver Convention Center
Internet address


  • International benchmarking competitions
  • Image analysis methods
  • Comparative performance assessment
  • Biomedical image analysis
  • Algorithm development strategies
  • Multi-task learning
  • Multi-stage pipelines
  • Data augmentation
  • Preprocessing
  • Post-processing
  • Deep learning experience
  • "State of the art"
  • Failure case analysis
  • Competition participation strategies
  • Scientific progress in image analysis


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