2 PhD in computer science, speech processing, applied mathematics and natural language processing Netherlands 2015

The positions are sought for a joint project between the Institute of Informatics (IvI) and the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC).

Both institutes are part of the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam. The Faculty of Science holds a leading position internationally in its fields of research and participates in a large number of cooperative programs with universities, research institutes and businesses. The faculty has a student body of around 4,000 and 1,500 members of staff, spread over eight research institutes and a number of faculty wide support services.

A considerable part of the research is made possible by external funding from Dutch and international organizations and the private sector. The Faculty of Science offers thirteen Bachelor’s degree programs and eighteen Master’s degree programs in the fields of the exact sciences, computer science and information studies, and life and earth sciences.

Since September 2010, the whole faculty has been housed in a brand new building at the Science Park in Amsterdam. The installment of the faculty has made the Science Park one of the largest centers of academic research in the Netherlands.

The Informatics Institute is one of the large research institutes with the faculty, with a focus on complex information systems divided in two broad themes: ‘Computational Systems’ and ‘Intelligent Systems.’ The institute has a prominent international standing and is active in a dynamic scientific area, with a strong innovative character and an extensive portfolio of externally funded projects.

The Institute for Logic, Language and Computation ( ILLC) is a research institute at the University of Amsterdam, in which researchers from the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Humanities collaborate. Its central research area is the study of fundamental principles of encoding, transmission and comprehension of information. Research at ILLC is interdisciplinary, and aims at bringing together insights from various disciplines concerned with information and information processing, such as logic, mathematics, computer science, linguistics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, musicology and philosophy. Research is organized in three research groups: Logic and Computation (LoCo), Logic and Language (LoLa) and  Language and Computation (LaCo). Check here for an overview of the research being carried out in the different groups. For the research carried out by the individual staff members of ILLC, see their personal pages via People at ILLC.

The Amsterdam Machine Learning Lab (AMLAB) of IvI conducts research in the area of large scale modelling of complex data sources. This includes the development of new methods for probabilistic graphical models and nonparametric Bayesian models, the development of faster (approximate) inference and learning methods, deep learning, causal inference, reinforcement learning and multi-agent systems and the application of all of the above to large scale data domains in science and industry (‘Big Data problems‘).

AMLAB is embedded in the Intelligent Systems Lab Amsterdam (ISLA). ISLA conducts research in sensory information processing and autonomous systems. It produces theoretically as well as applied research. ISLA has an outstanding group of researchers and collaborates with national and international research institutes and companies.

Project description

Deep learning has been very successful in a number of areas (e.g., computer vision, speech processing and natural language processing). However, there has been little work on developing deep learning methods for predictive analysis of complex network data (e.g., social networks, trading networks etc.). This project fills this gap and focuses on statistical modelling of information exchange in transaction networks. In this work we will use very large amounts of real data from a trading network (an industrial partner) but the methods will generalize to other types of networks where heterogeneous data is being exchanged (e.g., social networks). We will be developing predictive algorithms relying on the flow of transactions in the network (e.g., various types of recommendations as well as detection of novel and significant events). We also seek to cluster the businesses trading over the networks as well as the products that are being traded. As information in these networks mostly comes in a textual form, we will develop methods for inducing predictive semantics representations of texts relying both on the text itself but also on the flow of information in the network.

There are 2 PhD vacancies within this project:

PhD1 will focus primarily on clustering and predictive modelling (affiliated with IvI, supervised by Prof. Max Welling)

PhD2 will focus primarily on natural language processing (affiliated with ILLC. supervised by Dr. Ivan Titov)

Close collaboration between the two PhD students is envisaged. The PhD candidates will be expected to fulfil the following tasks:

complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;

regularly present intermediate research results at international workshops and conferences, and publish them in proceedings and journals;

collaborate with researchers in other relevant parts of IvI and ILLC as well as with the industrial partner providing the data;

participate in the organisation of research activities and events at IvI and ILLC, such as conferences, workshops and joint publications;

assist in teaching activities at the institute they are affiliated with (IvI or ILLC).


Necessary qualifications for candidates include excellent grades, proven research talent, affinity with machine learning, statistics and excellent programming skills.

Specific requirements for each PhD position:

PhD 1: A master’s degree in computer science or statistics (preferably with a specialization in artificial intelligence and/or machine learning);

PhD 2: A master’s degree in computer science (preferably with a specialization in artificial intelligence and/or machine learning), applied mathematics or computational linguistics

Candidates are expected to have an excellent command of English, and good academic writing and presentation skills. Applicants are kindly requested to motivate why they have chosen to apply for this specific position.

Further information

For further information regarding PhD1 you may contact:

Prof. Max Welling

For further information regarding PhD2 wou may contact:

Dr. Ivan Titov


The appointment will be full-time (38 hours a week) for a period of four years (initial employment is 18 months and after a positive evaluation, the appointment will be extended further with 30 months) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan that includes attendance of courses and national and international meetings will be drafted. The PhD candidate is also expected to assist in teaching of undergraduates. The salary is in accordance with the university regulations for academic personnel. The salary will range from €2,125 (first year) up to a maximum of €2,717 (last year) before tax per month (scale P) based on a full-time appointment. There are also secondary benefits, such as 8% holiday allowance per year and the end of year allowance of 8.3%. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities is applicable.

English is the working language within the Informatics Institute. Moreover, since Amsterdam is a very international city where almost everybody speaks and understands English, candidates need not be afraid of the language barrier.

Some of the things we have to offer:

very friendly, interactive and international working environment;

new building located near the city center (20 minutes by bicycle) of one of Europe’s most beautiful and lively cities;

access to high-end computing facilities (e.g., cluster with 4,000+ cores).

Starting date: as soon as possible before 1 January 2016.

Job application

Applications should include the following information, in separate pdf files (not zipped), using surname, initials and a self-evident word as file names, e.g., Smith J CV:

a curriculum vitae (including an url for download of M.Sc. thesis — if relevant);

a letter of motivation (at most 1 page) explaining why you are interested in this position;

a preference for the ML position (Welling) or the NLP position (Titov);

a research statement (at most 2 pages), explaining your research interests and experience;

a list of all graduate courses taken, with a transcript of grades;

the names and contact details of two or three references who can provide further details about you.

Completed applications should be submitted by 15 October 2015 via application-science@uva.nl and should state your name and vacancy number 15-335 in the subject field. The committee cannot guarantee that late or incomplete applications will be considered.

Salary indication

€2,125 to €2,717 gross per month

Closing date 15 October 2015

Vacancy number 15-335