Gradient Prize

We’re excited to announce the 2021 Gradient Prize! TLDR: Submit full, finished pieces between June 1 and September 1, 2021 for a chance to win a total of $1000 in prizes — we can’t wait to see what you come up with!

This page will be updated with a submission link and formatting requirements once the contest is live on June 1; we will also announce our guest judge panel then.

Prize allocation

In total, we will award $1000 in prizes for the best new article submissions received between June 1 and September 1, 2021.

  • Winner: $500
  • Two runners-up: $250 each

Guidelines for a winning essay

The only non-negotiable rule is as follows. Unlike our typical editorial process, for the Gradient Prize, we are expecting full, finished pieces, and will be judging them largely as-is.

The remainder of these should be considered rough, flexible guidelines for pieces that have been successful in the past. If you write something truly brilliant that contradicts these, please still feel free to submit!

  • Wordcount: between 1500 and 4000 words.
  • While we aren’t looking for literary genius, the piece should be well-written and express ideas clearly. The intended audience for your piece should be a technical person who is generally familiar with machine learning and big-picture issues, but not necessarily well-versed in your particular subfield.
  • The topic should be relevant to the ML community as a whole -- or, make the case for why it should be relevant.
  • Your piece should be grounded in solid background research or technical details, not solely opinion. We expect citations to e.g. news media and/or academic papers.
  • If relevant, illustrations are encouraged, but not necessary.
  • Some broad categories for potentially successful pieces:
    • An in-depth introduction to X { subfield, application }
    • Your position on a current debate in your (sub)field
    • Make the case for X { e.g. research direction, but any opinion really }

Selection process

The process of selecting winners will be as follows.

  • The core team of Gradient editors will read all submissions and compile a shortlist of finalists. Each submission will be read by at least two members of Gradient editorial staff.
  • The shortlist of finalists will be anonymized and sent to our guest judge(s).

Additional notes

If you are still interested in going through the regular, multi-draft full editorial process during this period of time, you are by all means welcome to do so! However, any piece that goes through the standard editorial process is ineligible for the prize. That being said, all prize submissions will also be considered for publication (even if you don’t win the prize), potentially with additional editorial support after the conclusion of the contest.

This prize was made possible by a generous donation from the SPARC Experimental Fund.