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!

To enter the contest, just fill out our writing interest form and indicate interest in the contest in your submission.

New 08.28.21: Judges announced!

We're thrilled to announce our three guest judges, pulled from a pool of previous Gradient contributors.


Chip Huyen is an engineer working to develop continually learning recommender systems. Through her work with Snorkel AI, NVIDIA, and Netflix, she has helped some of the world’s largest organizations deploy machine learning systems. She teaches Machine Learning Systems Design at Stanford. She’s also published four bestselling Vietnamese books.


Sebastian Ruder is a research scientist in the Language team at DeepMind, London, U.K. He completed his Ph.D. in Natural Language Processing and Deep Learning at the Insight Research Centre for Data Analytics, while working as a research scientist at Dublin-based text analytics startup AYLIEN. Previously, he studied Computational Linguistics at the University of Heidelberg, Germany and at Trinity College, Dublin. He works on transfer learning in natural language processing and is interested in making ML and NLP more accessible.


I'm Shreya Shankar, a computer scientist living in the Bay Area. I'm interested in building systems to operationalize machine learning (ML) workflows. My research focus is on end-to-end observability for ML systems. Currently, I am doing my PhD in the RISE lab at UC Berkeley. Previously, I was an ML engineer at Viaduct, did ML research at Google Brain, and obtained my BS and MS in computer science at Stanford.

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

NEW: All submissions made in this time period will be eligible for the prize, regardless of whether the author chooses to go through our editorial process; for the submissions which have gone through our editorial process, both the initial state of the piece and the outcome of editing will be taken into account when selecting winners. (It was previously announced that edited submissions would be ineligible for the prize).

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!

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.