Coarse-to-Fine: Progressive knowledge transfer-based multitask convolutional neural network for intelligent large-scale fault diagnosis

Yu Wang, Ruonan Liu, Di Lin, Dongyue Chen, Ping Li, Qinghua Hu, C. L. Philip Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


In modern industry, large-scale fault diagnosis of complex systems is emerging and becoming increasingly important. Most deep learning-based methods perform well on small number of fault diagnosis, but cannot converge to satisfactory results when handling large-scale fault diagnosis because the huge number of fault types will lead to the problems of intra/inter-class distance unbalance and poor local minima in neural networks. To address the above problems, a progressive knowledge transfer-based multitask convolutional neural network (PKT-MCNN) is proposed. First, to construct the coarse-to-fine knowledge structure intelligently, a structure learning algorithm is proposed via clustering fault types in different coarse-grained nodes. Thus, the intra/inter-class distance unbalance problem can be mitigated by spreading similar tasks into different nodes. Then, an MCNN architecture is designed to learn the coarse and fine-grained task simultaneously and extract more general fault information, thereby pushing the algorithm away from poor local minima. Last but not least, a PKT algorithm is proposed, which can not only transfer the coarse-grained knowledge to the fine-grained task and further alleviate the intra/inter-class distance unbalance in feature space, but also regulate different learning stages by adjusting the attention weight to each task progressively. To verify the effectiveness of the proposed method, a dataset of a nuclear power system with 66 fault types was collected and analyzed. The results demonstrate that the proposed method can be a promising tool for large-scale fault diagnosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Aug 2021


  • coarse-to-fine
  • knowledge transfer
  • large-scale fault diagnosis of complex system
  • multitask convolutional neural network (MCNN)
  • structure learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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