2 PhD positions in Conversational Search Engines
University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Science – Informatics Institute

2 PhD positions in Conversational Search Engines

Faculty of Science – Informatics Institute


Publication date 6 March 2019

Closing date 2 May 2019

Level of education Master's degree

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month

Vacancy number 19-145


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 6,500 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.


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.


World-class research groups include ILPS (information retrieval led by Prof. Maarten de Rijke), AMLAB (machine learning led by Prof. Max Welling), and ISIS (computer vision led by Prof. Cees Snoek). Further, there is a number of industry funded research labs including the Ahold-UvA Lab, the Bosch-UvA Lab, the Qualcomm-UVA Lab, and the SAP-UvALab.


Project description

The three positions (2 PhD students and 1 Postdoctoral researcher) are funded by the NWO VIDI grant (016.Vidi.189.039), received by Prof. Evangelos Kanoulas, to conduct research on Conversational Search Engines. The successful applicants will be members of the Human-Machine Intelligent Lab (HuMIL), led by Prof. Kanoulas, which is part of the Information Language Processing Systems (ILPS) group, led by Prof. De Rijke. Research at ILPS is focused on technology that connects people to information: search engines, recommender systems, and conversational agents. We are organized in four labs (AI for Retail Lab, Human-Machine Intelligence Lab, Information Retrieval Lab, and Language Technology Lab). ILPS is composed by 6 professors and around 30 PhD candidates.


Searching for information in digital repositories plays a central role in today’s life. With the amount of available data growing rapidly, we rely on intelligent agents, search engines, to retrieve relevant information. The research on Conversational Search Engines aims to design algorithms that learn models of relevance with the help of human interaction, by coupling human input and machines during the learning process, as well as to design methods and build datasets that can be used to evaluate the quality of the proposed models and algorithms, and demonstrate their societal value to fields such as law, and medicine.



  • Master degree in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Physics or related field;
  • excellent programming skills (e.g. R, Python, C/C++);
  • solid mathematics foundations, especially statistics, calculus and linear algebra;
  • highly motivated;
  • fluent in English, both written and spoken.

Proven experience with machine learning / natural lnguage processing / information retrieval is a big plus. 


Further information

  •  Evangelos Kanoulas



Starting date: flexible; ideally as late as September 2019.


The appointment will be on a temporary basis for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it can be extended for a total duration of 4 years. The appointment should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. The PhD candidate is also expected to assist in teaching of bachelor and master students.


The gross monthly salary will range from €2,325 (first year) up to a maximum of €2,972 (last year). The salary is based on a full-time appointment (38 hours a week). The total salary includes an additional 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus, under the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (Cao). A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants.


Among other things, we offer:

  • competitive pay and good benefits;
  • top-50 University worldwide;
  • one of the best Deep Learning Ecosystems in the World
  • interactive, open-minded and a very international city;
  • excellent computing facilities.

English is the working language in the Informatics Institute. As in Amsterdam almost everybody speaks and understands English, candidates need not be afraid of the language barrier.


Job application

The UvA is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We value a spirit of enquiry and endurance, provide the space to keep asking questions and cherish a diverse atmosphere of curiosity and creativity.


The Informatics Institute strives for a better gender balance in its staff. We therefore strongly encourage women to apply for this position.


You may send in your application no later than 2 May 2019 using the link below. Please upload the following information in a single PDF file:

  • a curriculum vitae (including a url allowing download of pdf of MSc. thesis -- if relevant);
  • a letter of motivation (at most 1 page) explaining why you are interested in this position;
  • a research statement (at most 2 pages), explaining your research interests and how you think they can be related to the topics mentioned in the Job description above;
  • a list of all university courses taken, including a transcript of grades;
  • the name and contact details (including email address) of two or three referees who can provide details about your profile (one of whom should be the main supervisor of your Master thesis).


Please quote vacancy number 19-145 in your cover letter.


At this stage of the procedure, please do not send letters of reference or proofs of your academic writing.


Late or incomplete applications will be considered at the committee’s discretion. #LI-DNP

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Computeroxy


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