Google Summer of Code

Mahout has been mentoring students in Google Summer of Code (GSoC) for as long as the project has existed. To help students better understand what is expected of them, this page lays out common advice, links and other tips and tricks for successfully creating a GSoC proposal for Mahout.

Be warned, however, that GSoC, particularly at the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), is fairly competitive. Not only are you competing against others within Mahout, but Mahout is competing with other projects in the ASF. Therefore, it is very important that proposals be well referenced and well thought out. Even if you don’t get selected, consider sticking around. Open source is fun, a great career builder and can open up many opportunities for you.

Tips on Good Proposals

  • Interact with the community before proposal time. This is actually part of how we rate proposals. Having a good idea is just one part of the process. You must show you can communicate and work within the community parameters. You might even consider putting up a patch or two that shows you get how things work. See How To Contribute.
  • Since Machine Learning is fairly academic, be sure to cite your sources in your proposal.
  • Provide a realistic timeline. Be sure you indicate what other obligations you have during the summer. It may seem worthwhile to lie here, but we have failed students mid-term in the past because they did not participate as they said they would. Failing mid-term means not getting paid.
  • Do not mail mentors off list privately unless it is something truly personal (most things are not). This will likely decrease your chances of being selected, not increase them.
  • DO NOT BITE OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW. Every year, there are a few students who propose to implement 3-5 machine learning algorithms on Map/Reduce, all in a two month period. They NEVER get selected. Be realistic. All successful projects to date follow, more or less, the following formula: Implement algorithm on Map/Reduce. Write Unit Tests. Do some bigger scale tests. Write 1 or 2 examples. Write Wiki documentation. That’s it. Trust us, it takes a summer to do these things.

What to expect once selected

  • Just as in the proposals, almost all interaction should take place on the mailing lists. Only personal matters related to your whereabouts or your evaluation will take place privately.
  • Show up. Ask questions. Be engaged. We don’t care if you know it all about what you are implementing. We care about you contributing to open source. You learn. We learn. Win-win.
  • Enjoy it! Contributing to open source can open some amazing doors for your career.