Prof. Maarten de Rijke has been appointed University Professor of AI and Information Retrieval at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), effective 1 September 2018. De Rijke will combine his new chair, which will be affiliated with the Faculty of Science, with his position as director of the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI). De Rijke is the first of four new University Professors at the UvA who will focus on artificial intelligence.
The last decade has witnessed an exponential growth in the amount of information. As University Professor, De Rijke will focus on developing new algorithms for connecting people to information. By using artificial intelligence, the interaction between information systems and users can be used both to dynamically adapt information to the user and to improve systems. The underlying algorithms learn from interactions with users and the users’ behaviour in response to system actions, giving rise to ‘self-learning search engines, recommender systems, and conversational agents’. The aim is to use AI techniques to develop algorithms that can be applied across domains.
An important objective of the chair is to foster and strengthen knowledge exchange in the field of AI with other UvA faculties and the three other University Professors. De Rijke’s research results will form part of the UvA’s teaching curriculum in AI. Algorithmic advances will be used in teaching. De Rijke will also help shape discussions around AI and its impact, both inside and outside academia.
‘His scientific achievements and his distinguished national and international reputation at the interface of AI and Information Retrieval, make Maarten de Rijke the ideal person to hold this important chair’, says UvA Rector Magnificus Karen Maex. ‘He will bring together the expertise of a broad set of researchers and research teams, and especially the other University Professors, to work on a UvA-wide interdisciplinary research agenda for AI and its impact. To this end, De Rijke will assemble expertise from the sciences, medicine, law, and the humanities’.
Maarten de Rijke (1961) has been affiliated with the UvA since 1998. In 2004, he was appointed professor of Information Retrieval at the UvA’s Informatics Institute. In early 2018, he was named director of the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI), which focuses on the joint development of AI technology through industry labs with the business sector, government and knowledge institutes. De Rijke is also scientific programme leader of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands’ (VSNU) Digital Society programme. In 2017, he received the Tony Kent Strix Award in recognition of his special contributions to the field of Information Retrieval. De Rijke is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and a member of the Executive Committee of eHumanitiesNL, a national platform that brings together expertise and research on the development and use of digital technologies in the humanities and social sciences.
From 2014 to 2017, De Rijke was director of Amsterdam Data Science, a collaborative partnership in the field of Data Science between the UvA, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) and Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI). Between 2011 and 2016, he headed a national research team in the area of Information Retrieval as part of the public-private research programme COMMIT. De Rijke is the recipient of, among other things, a Pionier Personal Innovation Grant, a Warwick Research Fellowship, and a large number of grants from NWO and industrial partners.
The UvA currently has four University Professors: Robbert Dijkgraaf, Alexander Rinnooy Kan, Patti Valkenburg and Frank Vandenbroucke. In addition to Maarten de Rijke, another three University Professors in the field of AI will be appointed: AI and Medical Imaging (affiliated with the AMC), Humanities and AI (affiliated with the Faculty of Humanities) and Law and Technology with a special emphasis on AI (affiliated with the Faculty of Law). The appointment process for these three chairs is still ongoing. By establishing four new chairs, the UvA aims to give an extra boost to its AI research and teaching. In addition to their university-wide assignment, the new University Professors will also have a faculty assignment. They will be expected to give an impetus to academic developments that transcend the traditional disciplines and thereby make an important contribution to the profiling of the university.