I have about 400 ~ 500 lines of what I would call average open source code contribution. Does open source code contribution matter for graduate admissions? I am interested in applying to a MS in computer science and am interested in machine learning. I have a great plan for an awesome feature for Libsvm (and open-source implementation of the popular support vector machine technique for machine learning). Will implementing it help my application ?

  • 2
    Hi, and welcome to Academia.SE! You've asked several questions in this one question, and it would probably be better if you split them up into separate questions - in fact, several of your sub-questions here may already be answered on this board, so you should search and try to find them. See here: meta.academia.stackexchange.com/q/960/7346 Good luck!
    – darthbith
    May 18, 2014 at 16:16
  • I am extremely sorry man I didn't know about that. I don't think I have time to fix this. I have barely slept this whole week :( I will fix this question when I find time. I am very sorry.
    – Aditya
    May 18, 2014 at 17:35
  • It is no problem! Everyone has to get used to the norms of each community when they join. As you can see by the score on your question, our community likes the question, I'm just trying to help make it more focused :-)
    – darthbith
    May 18, 2014 at 17:38
  • Your question about the value of MOOCs for graduate admissions has already been addressed, I have removed it from this post.
    – ff524
    May 18, 2014 at 19:49

2 Answers 2


Does open source code contribution matter for graduate admissions?


Admission to graduate school is based primarily on your potential for research. Independent, creative, intellectual work of any kind strongly correlates with potential for research, especially if that work is directly related to the interests described in your research statement. Contributing to open-source software projects is independent, creative, intellectual work.

Of course, your contribution would matter more if it were merged into the main branch of the project, but something is better than nothing.


There are a bunch of questions in one here. I'll answer the one that seems central:

I have a great plan for an awesome feature for Libsvm, will implementing it help my application ?

Yes, I would consider that contributing to a well-known machine learning (ML) toolkit will significantly strengthen your case for an application in ML. It shows that you know the fundamentals of support vector machines already, and that you are genuinely interested in the field. Plus, it is presumably something that distinguishes you from all other candidates.

  • Umm .. I have one problem with this though. The guy who runs the LIBSVM project is not accepting any patches. So if I fork it and start contribute it to it on my own and it may have very little downloads. Will it it be of still value ?
    – Aditya
    May 18, 2014 at 17:33
  • I am assuming he is not accepting any patches cause he didn't even accept/comment on any patch so far even the ones 8 months old !!
    – Aditya
    May 18, 2014 at 17:36
  • "So if I fork it and start contribute it to it on my own and it may have very little downloads" I would assume this reduces the value significantly, yes.
    – xLeitix
    May 18, 2014 at 17:39
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    I do not know, but this is certainly not the right forum to discuss this.
    – xLeitix
    May 18, 2014 at 17:44
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    @Aditya: Granted, that does not sound sufficient. I thought your contribution to the project was more connected to the actual topic (interesting on the research side) of the project rather than just technical maintenance. In the latter case, I agree that a fork is not that convincing, for it doesn't inherently show your commitment to contribution as a participation in a well-known project would do. May 18, 2014 at 20:06

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