Postdoctoral researcher in Conversational Search Engines
University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Science – Informatics Institute

Postdoctoral researcher in Conversational Search Engines

Faculty of Science – Informatics Institute


Publication date 6 March 2019

Closing date 2 May 2019

Level of education PhD

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €2,709 to €4,978 gross per month

Vacancy number 19-146


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.



  • PhD degree in machine learning, natural language processing, information retrieval or related field;
  • excellent publication record in top-tier international conferences and/or journals;
  • strong programming skills (e.g. R, Python, Theano, Torch, Tensorflow, C/C++);
  • motivated and capable to coordinate and supervise research;
  • motivated to co-author grant proposals.

Proven experience with dialog/conversational systems is a plus.


Further information

  •  Evangelos Kanoulas



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

The temporary appointment of a postdoctoral research fellow will be for three years (initial employment is 12 months and after a positive evaluation, the appointment will be extended further with 24 months). The gross monthly salary will range from €2,709 up to a maximum of €4,978 (scale 10/11) depending on qualifications, expertise and on the number of years of professional experience. 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. 


Applications must include a motivation letter explaining why you are the right candidate, curriculum vitae (mention the months and years when referring to your education and work experience), a copy of your PhD thesis (when available), a complete record of Bachelor and Master courses (including grades), a list of projects you have worked on (with brief descriptions of your contributions, max 2 pages) and the names and contact addresses of at least two academic references. . 


Please quote vacancy number 19-146 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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