COVID-19 detection using cough sound analysis and deep learning algorithms

Sunil Rao, Vivek Narayanaswamy, Michael Esposito, Jayaraman J. Thiagarajan, Andreas Spanias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Reliable and rapid non-invasive testing has become essential for COVID-19 diagnosis and tracking statistics. Recent studies motivate the use of modern machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) tools that utilize features of coughing sounds for COVID-19 diagnosis. In this paper, we describe system designs that we developed for COVID-19 cough detection with the long-term objective of embedding them in a testing device. More specifically, we use log-mel spectrogram features extracted from the coughing audio signal and design a series of customized deep learning algorithms to develop fast and automated diagnosis tools for COVID-19 detection. We first explore the use of a deep neural network with fully connected layers. Additionally, we investigate prospects of efficient implementation by examining the impact on the detection performance by pruning the fully connected neural network based on the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis (LTH) optimization process. In general, pruned neural networks have been shown to provide similar performance gains to that of unpruned networks with reduced computational complexity in a variety of signal processing applications. Finally, we investigate the use of convolutional neural network architectures and in particular the VGG-13 architecture which we tune specifically for this application. Our results show that a unique ensembling of the VGG-13 architecture trained using a combination of binary cross entropy and focal losses with data augmentation significantly outperforms the fully connected networks and other recently proposed baselines on the DiCOVA 2021 COVID-19 cough audio dataset. Our customized VGG-13 model achieves an average validation AUROC of 82.23% and a test AUROC of 78.3% at a sensitivity of 80.49%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-665
Number of pages11
JournalIntelligent Decision Technologies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • COVID-19 detection
  • artificial intelligence
  • deep learning
  • healthcare
  • machine learning
  • respiratory diagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Artificial Intelligence


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