Patch samplers

Samplers are used to randomly extract patches from volumes. They are called with a sample generated by a SubjectsDataset and return a Python generator that yields cropped versions of the sample.

For more information about patch-based training, see this NiftyNet tutorial.

class Union[int, Tuple[int, int, int]])[source]


Randomly extract patches from a volume with uniform probability.


patch_size – See PatchSampler.

class Union[int, Tuple[int, int, int]], probability_map: str)[source]


Randomly extract patches from a volume given a probability map.

The probability of sampling a patch centered on a specific voxel is the value of that voxel in the probability map. The probabilities need not be normalized. For example, voxels can have values 0, 1 and 5. Voxels with value 0 will never be at the center of a patch. Voxels with value 5 will have 5 times more chance of being at the center of a patch that voxels with a value of 1.

  • patch_size – See PatchSampler.

  • probability_map – Name of the image in the input subject that will be used as a sampling probability map.


RuntimeError – If the probability map is empty.


>>> import torchio as tio
>>> subject = tio.Subject(
...     t1=tio.ScalarImage('t1_mri.nii.gz'),
...     sampling_map=tio.Image('sampling.nii.gz', type=tio.SAMPLING_MAP),
... )
>>> patch_size = 64
>>> sampler =, 'sampling_map')
>>> for patch in sampler(subject):
...     print(patch['index_ini'])


The index of the center of a patch with even size \(s\) is arbitrarily set to \(s/2\). This is an implementation detail that will typically not make any difference in practice.


Values of the probability map near the border will be set to 0 as the center of the patch cannot be at the border (unless the patch has size 1 or 2 along that axis).

class Union[int, Tuple[int, int, int]], label_name: Optional[str] = None, label_probabilities: Optional[Dict[int, float]] = None)[source]


Extract random patches with labeled voxels at their center.

This sampler yields patches whose center value is greater than 0 in the label_name.

  • patch_size – See PatchSampler.

  • label_name – Name of the label image in the subject that will be used to generate the sampling probability map. If None, the first image of type torchio.LABEL found in the subject subject will be used.

  • label_probabilities – Dictionary containing the probability that each class will be sampled. Probabilities do not need to be normalized. For example, a value of {0: 0, 1: 2, 2: 1, 3: 1} will create a sampler whose patches centers will have 50% probability of being labeled as 1, 25% of being 2 and 25% of being 3. If None, the label map is binarized and the value is set to {0: 0, 1: 1}. If the input has multiple channels, a value of {0: 0, 1: 2, 2: 1, 3: 1} will create a sampler whose patches centers will have 50% probability of being taken from a non zero value of channel 1, 25% from channel 2 and 25% from channel 3.


>>> import torchio as tio
>>> subject = tio.datasets.Colin27()
>>> subject
Colin27(Keys: ('t1', 'head', 'brain'); images: 3)
>>> probabilities = {0: 0.5, 1: 0.5}
>>> sampler =
...     patch_size=64,
...     label_name='brain',
...     label_probabilities=probabilities,
... )
>>> generator = sampler(subject)
>>> for patch in generator:
...     print(patch.shape)

If you want a specific number of patches from a volume, e.g. 10:

>>> generator = sampler(subject, num_patches=10)
>>> for patch in iterator:
...     print(patch.shape)
class Union[int, Tuple[int, int, int]])[source]

Bases: object

Base class for TorchIO samplers.


patch_size – Tuple of integers \((w, h, d)\) to generate patches of size \(w \times h \times d\). If a single number \(n\) is provided, \(w = h = d = n\).


This is an abstract class that should only be instantiated using child classes such as UniformSampler and WeightedSampler.


class, max_length: int, samples_per_volume: int, sampler:, num_workers: int = 0, shuffle_subjects: bool = True, shuffle_patches: bool = True, start_background: bool = True, verbose: bool = False)[source]

Bases: Generic[]

Queue used for stochastic patch-based training.

A training iteration (i.e., forward and backward pass) performed on a GPU is usually faster than loading, preprocessing, augmenting, and cropping a volume on a CPU. Most preprocessing operations could be performed using a GPU, but these devices are typically reserved for training the CNN so that batch size and input tensor size can be as large as possible. Therefore, it is beneficial to prepare (i.e., load, preprocess and augment) the volumes using multiprocessing CPU techniques in parallel with the forward-backward passes of a training iteration. Once a volume is appropriately prepared, it is computationally beneficial to sample multiple patches from a volume rather than having to prepare the same volume each time a patch needs to be extracted. The sampled patches are then stored in a buffer or queue until the next training iteration, at which point they are loaded onto the GPU for inference. For this, TorchIO provides the Queue class, which also inherits from the PyTorch Dataset. In this queueing system, samplers behave as generators that yield patches from random locations in volumes contained in the SubjectsDataset.

The end of a training epoch is defined as the moment after which patches from all subjects have been used for training. At the beginning of each training epoch, the subjects list in the SubjectsDataset is shuffled, as is typically done in machine learning pipelines to increase variance of training instances during model optimization. A PyTorch loader queries the datasets copied in each process, which load and process the volumes in parallel on the CPU. A patches list is filled with patches extracted by the sampler, and the queue is shuffled once it has reached a specified maximum length so that batches are composed of patches from different subjects. The internal data loader continues querying the SubjectsDataset using multiprocessing. The patches list, when emptied, is refilled with new patches. A second data loader, external to the queue, may be used to collate batches of patches stored in the queue, which are passed to the neural network.

  • subjects_dataset – Instance of SubjectsDataset.

  • max_length – Maximum number of patches that can be stored in the queue. Using a large number means that the queue needs to be filled less often, but more CPU memory is needed to store the patches.

  • samples_per_volume – Number of patches to extract from each volume. A small number of patches ensures a large variability in the queue, but training will be slower.

  • sampler – A subclass of PatchSampler used to extract patches from the volumes.

  • num_workers – Number of subprocesses to use for data loading (as in 0 means that the data will be loaded in the main process.

  • shuffle_subjects – If True, the subjects dataset is shuffled at the beginning of each epoch, i.e. when all patches from all subjects have been processed.

  • shuffle_patches – If True, patches are shuffled after filling the queue.

  • start_background – If True, the loader will start working in the background as soon as the queue is instantiated.

  • verbose – If True, some debugging messages will be printed.

This diagram represents the connection between a SubjectsDataset, a Queue and the DataLoader used to pop batches from the queue.

Training with patches

This sketch can be used to experiment and understand how the queue works. In this case, shuffle_subjects is False and shuffle_patches is True.


num_workers refers to the number of workers used to load and transform the volumes. Multiprocessing is not needed to pop patches from the queue, so you should always use num_workers=0 for the DataLoader you instantiate to generate training batches.


>>> import torch
>>> import torchio as tio
>>> from import DataLoader
>>> patch_size = 96
>>> queue_length = 300
>>> samples_per_volume = 10
>>> sampler =
>>> subject = tio.datasets.Colin27()
>>> subjects_dataset = tio.SubjectsDataset(10 * [subject])
>>> patches_queue = tio.Queue(
...     subjects_dataset,
...     queue_length,
...     samples_per_volume,
...     sampler,
...     num_workers=4,
... )
>>> patches_loader = DataLoader(patches_queue, batch_size=16)
>>> num_epochs = 2
>>> model = torch.nn.Identity()
>>> for epoch_index in range(num_epochs):
...     for patches_batch in patches_loader:
...         inputs = patches_batch['t1'][tio.DATA]  # key 't1' is in subject
...         targets = patches_batch['brain'][tio.DATA]  # key 'brain' is in subject
...         logits = model(inputs)  # model being an instance of torch.nn.Module