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PhD position in Geometric and Probabilistic Modeling for Explainable Hybrid Intelligent Systems

Faculty of Science – Informatics Institute

PhD position in Geometric and Probabilistic Modeling for Explainable Hybrid Intelligent Systems
Publication date 29 July 2020
Closing date 1 September 2020
Level of education Master's degree
Hours 38 hours per week
Salary indication €2,395 to €3,061 gross per month
Vacancy number 20-459

Why build AI systems that replace people if we can build AI systems that collaborate with people? Hybrid Intelligence is the combination of human and machine intelligence, expanding human intellect instead of replacing it. Our goal is to design Hybrid Intelligent systems, an approach to Artificial Intelligence that puts humans at the centre, changing the course of the ongoing AI revolution.

We are looking for a PhD student to design Hybrid Intelligent systems based on principles from (visual) attention, geometry, and probabilistic modeling. The aim of this project is to model, study, and visualize decision-making processes in (convolutional) neural networks. In particular, emphasis is put on explainability in critical applications where reliability and trustworthiness of AI systems are crucial, such as in the medical domain.

A main theme will be the design of AI system through recurrent NNs by which focus is put on modeling (and visualization of) the dynamics of decision making rather than relying on the static black box mechanics of feed-forward networks. E.g. when tracing a blood vessel in medical image data, one does not need to be able to represent or remember the vessel as a whole (feedforward mechanism), but it is more important to learn how to connect local line segments (the dynamics of reasoning). Similarly, in image classification problems, it is important to learn how local cues relate to each other and learn how to “connect the dots” rather than trying to come to a decision given all information at once. Being able to capture/model such dynamics of reasoning opens doors for interaction with and visualization of the systems, which leads to explainability. Your research will be built upon an exciting mix of geometric (equivariance, invertibility, PDE’s) and probabilistic (VAE, normalizing flows) principles to ensure reliability and interpretability of AI systems.

This position is sponsored by the Hybrid Intelligence Centre, a collaboration of AI researchers from across the Netherlands. The position is also affiliated with the Amsterdam Machine Learning Lab at UvA and the Computational Intelligence Group at the VU Amsterdam.

The Hybrid Intelligence Centre will be recruiting 27 PhD or postdoc positions in total. If you also want to be considered for one of the Hybrid Intelligence Centre’s other PhD positions, then upload your documents to the HIC Talentpool. Your information will then be shared among the researchers in the consortium.

What are you going to do?

You are expected to:

  • invent, evaluate, and describe new methodologies that address explainability in AI via geometric and probabilistic approaches;
  • apply these methods in impactful domains such as healthcare and medical imaging;
  • present research results at international conferences, workshops, and journals;
  • become an active member of the research community and collaborate with other researchers, both within and outside Hybrid Intelligence Centre;
  • pursue, complete, and defend a PhD thesis within the appointed duration of four years;
  • assist in teaching activities, such as teaching labs and tutorials or supervising bachelor and master students.

What do we require?

  • A Master’s degree (or close to obtaining one) in Machine Learning, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, or a closely related field;
  • a strong scientific and mathematical background in machine learning, deep learning, medical image analysis or computer vision;
  • enthusiasm for the scientific process: formulating and conducting experiments, data collection and analysis, disseminating findings via writing and oral presentations;
  • good programming skills, experience with Python and deep learning toolkits is preferred;
  • the ability to work well in teams and communicate fluently in written and spoken English.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial appointment will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students. 

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,395 to €3,061 (scale P) gross per month, based on a full-time contract (38 hours a week). These amounts are exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

About the Faculty of Science and the Informatics Institute

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain, or machines that display intelligent behaviour.

The mission of the Informatics Institute is to perform curiosity-driven and use-inspired fundamental research in Computer Science. The main research themes are Artificial Intelligence, Computational Science and Systems and Network Engineering. Our research involves complex information systems at large, with a focus on collaborative, data driven, computational and intelligent systems, all with a strong interactive component.

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture 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.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 1 September 2020. You can apply online by using the button below. 

Applications should include:

  • a motivation letter that explains the reasons for applying to the position (max one A4 in length);
  • a curriculum vitae, including a list of publications if applicable;
  • a complete record of your Bachelor and Master courses, included grades and explanation of the grading system;
  • the names and contact addresses of at least two academic references (please do not include reference letters);
  • a link to / a copy of your work product. Examples: thesis, research paper (working draft or pre-print is acceptable), course project, blog post, open source software.

All items should be grouped into a single PDF file.

We will invite potential candidates for interviews by mid-September.

No agencies please