Contributing to Eigen

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Revision as of 16:19, 11 June 2014 by Jitse Niesen (Talk | contribs)

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Eigen is written and maintained by volunteers. If you are willing to help, great! Here are some pointers to get you started.


Perhaps the easiest way to help is to be willing to support new (and not so new) users of Eigen and answer their questions. People ask questions on the forum, on IRC (#eigen on, on the mailing list. There may also be questions on websites not connected to the project such as StackOverflow. You can also improve our FAQ with questions (and answers) that arise frequently.

Users arrive with different levels of C++ and mathematics knowledge, so whatever your level of experience, you can help out with this. Do not be too worried about given wrong advice; if you are not sure that your answer is correct, just say you are not sure and others will jump in if necessary.


In common with almost all software projects, we are struggling with writing good documentation, so we are especially keen to get help in this area. It might actually help here if you do not have years of experience with Eigen, as that makes you more in tune with the people that are reading the documentation. After answering users' questions, as explained above, think about whether the current documentation could be improved so that the question would not have arisen. This is not always possible, but questions often point to shortcomings in our documentation.

Most of the documentation resides at (or for the branch currently in development) and is generated by doxygen from comments in the source code (see Developer's Corner#Documentation tips). You can submit patches as described below. If your change is not too massive, an alternative is to use the web interface at bitbucket: fork the Eigen code at, find the correct source file, edit it, and submit a merge request to have your changes included.

There is also some documentation on this wiki and you are welcome to add to this. You can also use the wiki as a staging ground for documentation to be included in doxygen. If you do not have an account to the wiki, ask one of the administrators.

Bugs: triage, discussion, fixing

If you discover a bug, please report it! If you are unsure if it is a bug, you can ask on IRC or the mailing list first.

As of June 2014 there are more than 300 open bugs! It is hard to keep on top of them so any help in maintaining the list is very useful. The first step is to try and reproduce the bug. You may have to ask the bug reporter for information on the version of Eigen, the compiler, the OS, etc. Set the severity field to the correct value. Add keywords if necessary.

If you have an idea what might cause a bug or how it possibly could be fixed, add a comment to the corresponding bug-entry. If you exactly know how to fix a bug, please send us a patch or a pull request. See our Mercurial page for details on that. Also add a unit test to avoid regressions on particular bugs. In principle, searching bugzilla for bugs with the JuniorJob keyword should give you a list of relatively easy bugs to work on; in practice, this keyword is underused.

We need support especially for rarely used compilers and platforms!


If you have CPU hours to spare you can make nightly runs of our testsuite. This would be especially helpful for rarely tested compilers (of course, some redundancy is appreciated here as well). See our Dashboard for platforms and configurations that are tested at the moment.

Writing unit tests and documentation for one of the unsupported modules might be the task with the smoothest learning curve.

Discussing API and overall design

From time to time there are discussions on the mailing list or in bugzilla about new features or change requests in the current API. It helps to get feedback from actual users on what kind of API they expect.

Taking part in these discussions does not require being able to implement those changes!

Contributing code

If you have code to contribute (be it documentation or bug fixes or new features), then submit it either as a patches on bugzilla or as a merge request on bitbucket. See the page on Mercurial for how to produce a patch or a merge request and see the Developer's Corner for some general advice. Code implementing new features should have reached a certain standard before we can accept them; in particular, we expect the code to include tests and documentation. If your patch or merge is being ignored, don't be shy to remind us of it.

Unfortunately, some of the current code is not explained as clearly as we would like, especially the internal and the more complicated parts. Hopefully this will improve over time. The publications, especially the slides from Eurographics/CGLibs in Pisa, may help to gain an overview of the architecture. Do not hesitate to ask for help on the mailing list or IRC, or contact one of the volunteers listed below. If you do not understand it, chances are other people will also not understand it, so do improve the code or the documentation once you get it.

If you plan to make bigger contributions, first ask if anyone else is working on that or something related in order to reduce duplicated efforts. Also if your contribution involves major API decisions, it is generally advantageous to discuss them first.


This section is to collect people who would like to regularly contribute to Eigen. If you intend to regularly contribute to Eigen, add yourself to this table. Add areas of interest, expertise, or anything else in the second column. This could be structured better in the future.

If you don't have write access to this wiki, ask an administrator.

Name Interests
Christoph Hertzberg API and Architecture Discussions, Reviewing patches, ...
Jitse Niesen Dense linear algebra, Reviewing patches, Documentation ...