My electrical engineering master's program was a disaster. My advisor gave me three different projects:
- The first one was interesting, challenging, and solvable, but initial peer review of the paper revealed it to be irrelevant to the field. Essentially it was a very marginal improvement on an obsolete technology. The reviewers used colorful language.
- The second assignment was too vague to be actionable, and would have amounted to re-creating a huge, expensive physical modeling package. In order to understand this scope problem, I did a ton of research and coursework. (It would've been easier if the advisor had told me about the pre-existing software in the first place.)
- The third was basically just a programming task. I coded it up without learning much — no coursework related to this one. The program solved most, but not all, of its problem set. The advisor said this didn't matter, and to write it up anyway.
At this point, the degree seemed to lack validity, the field had lost its luster, and I was very literally losing my sanity. I stuck around and took some humanities courses, then in December 2008 told my advisor I'd take a hiatus. It was our last communication. I moved to another state and quit programming for a while.
I hate giving up. In September 2009 I started a writing a new program related to the third project, solving the same problem set. I worked on it on-and-off for a year until I got a job. (The problem was an open challenge. Unbeknownst to me, competitions were held in 2011 and 2012.)
Now, six years later, I'd like to polish up my independent work and post it to GitHub. Do I have any obligation to the advisor or to the university, or can I just go ahead and release it?