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PhD student on context modeling for dialog systems

Faculty of Science – Informatics Institute

PhD student on context modeling for dialog systems
Publication date 29 July 2020
Closing date 31 August 2020
Level of education Master's degree
Hours 38 hours per week
Salary indication €2,395 to €3,061 gross per month
Vacancy number 20-460

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.

The project will be recruiting 27 PhD or postdoc positions in total. For more information on the project see  the Hybrid Intelligence Centre.

At the University of Amsterdam, we are looking for a PhD candidate interested in combining deep learning and natural language processing research to model complex contextual information to significantly improve the quality of dialog systems.

While current deep learning methods have been shown to be very effective in generating fluent utterances, these utterances are often only poorly connected to the context of the conversation. In this project, we will investigate the role of context (agent or environment) on natural dialogue generation. In this project, we will explore a several research directions such as the detection and representation of knowledge gaps, the generation of contextually appropriate responses, and novel ways to represent and access large contextual information.

What are you going to do?

You are expected:

  • to invent, evaluate and describe novel algorithms for representing, accessing, and manipulating complex contextual information, where contextual information can be natural language utterances but also knowledge bases;
  • to integrate such algorithm into an experimental scenario, and evaluate according to quantitative and qualitative indicators including efficiency, explanation quality and trustworthiness, user’s satisfaction;
  • to present research results at international conferences, workshops, and journals;
  • to become an active member of the research community and to collaborate with other researchers, both within and outside the Informatics Institute;to pursue and complete a PhD thesis within the appointed duration of four years;
  • to assist in teaching activities, such as teaching labs and tutorials or supervising bachelor and master students.

What do we require?


  • have a Master’s degree in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, or a closely related field;
  •  have a strong scientific and mathematical background in artificial intelligence and a strong interest to solve natural language problems;
  • have a good academic record and eagerness to tackle complex scientific problems;
  • are able to implement and evaluate learning algorithms, e.g. using Python deep learning toolkits;
  • are able 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:

Applications should not be sent by email but be submitted through the link below this advertisement.

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. The Informatics Institute consists of more than 40 members of permanent research faculty, over 25 post-doctoral researchers, and more than 100 PhD students, together representing more than a dozen nationalities.

This PhD position is based in the Language Technology Lab (LTL) which focuses on information access from natural language data. LTL’s work ranges from basic research in natural language processing to key applications in human language technology and covers areas such as machine translation, summarization, question answering, language modeling, and dialog systems.

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 31 August 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;
  • a curriculum vitae;
  • 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 or copy of your master thesis.

We will invite potential candidates for interviews (possibly through Skype) in the second half of September 2020.

If you want to be also considered for one of our other PhD positions in the Hybrid Intelligence project, then you should also upload your documents to our Hybrid Intelligence talent pool.
Your information will then be shared among the researchers in the consortium, and you may be approached for one of the other positions listed here

No agencies please