Doctoral Researcher 14 (CONVERGENCE of HUMANS and MACHINES): Fairness and Explanations in Recommendations / Väitöskirjatutkija: Reiluus ja Selitykset Suosituksissa

Tampere University of Technology
February 15, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
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Contract Type:fixed-term period of
Working Time:Full time
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Tampere University and Tampere University of Applied Sciences create a unique environment for multidisciplinary, inspirational and high-impact research and education. Our universities community has its competitive edges in technology, health and society. www.

CONVERGENCE of HUMANS and MACHINES project at the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences is looking for a Doctoral Researcher to work on the topic of Fairness and Explanations in Recommendations.

Convergence is the trailblazing doctoral field, aiming at bringing together expertise of natural sciences & engineering (ENG) and social sciences & humanities (SSH) in multidisciplinary union. As many as 16 doctoral research projects are related to the following developments: affective computing, gamification, augmented reality, cybernetics, ubiquitous connectivity, dispersed computing, AI & machine learning, and robotics & machine perception. Each student will be supervised by two leading senior faculty members (and, sometimes, a PostDoc or company/organization representative). The main supervisor and the co-supervisor are from different research fields: ENG and SSH. Check the end of the position description for the supervisory team details.

Join Convergence … And make a change!

Convergence has 16 funded doctoral positions. The applicant may only apply for up to 3 positions within Convergence. If you are unsure if this (#14) is the correct one – please, check the website with the list of Convergence positions. Make your selection first and only apply the ones that are suitable for your background.

Project background

Convergence is a new research field that brings together academics from Social Sciences & Humanities and Technology & Engineering to train the next generation of Doctoral Expertise and address future challenges and opportunities of multidisciplinary Convergence of Humans and Machines. Convergence is funded by the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation.

Convergence is based on the premise that, on the one hand, people are increasingly integrated with technology and our culture and practices are increasingly dictated by information technology. On the other hand, machines are becoming more alive, creative, and dynamic. In other words, human and machine are converging. The project has emerged from the need to redefine and renegotiate the roles of human and machine in society and from the need of cross-disciplinary collaboration understand this rising area.

Job description

We are looking for a Doctoral Researcher in the area of AI & Machine Learning: Fairness, Bias, Explanations, Recommender Systems. To pursue the research towards “Fairness and Explanations in Recommendations” field.

Successful candidates will pursue a doctoral degree at Tampere University. Full-time doctoral studies are expected to be completed in four years.

An applicant may only apply for maximum 3 Convergence positions from this list. This position number is 14.

Short description:

Recommender systems (RS) is a category of AI systems that assist humans in making decisions, from harmless everyday life dilemmas to seemingly innocuous choices but with long-term, hidden consequences, up to more critical decisions. The prevalence of recommender systems in our lives gives rise to concerns about their trustworthiness. One mechanism to increase trust in recommendations is through explanations of the inner working of the system. Another means is to ensure the system exhibits desirable ethical traits, such as being non-discriminatory, diversity-aware, bias-free, which we collectively refer to as aspects of fairness. It is vital that the human user remains in the loop, able to interact with and control the behavior of the system in an accessible manner.

This doctoral research project focuses on studying and developing novel explainability methods that promote fairness and transparency in RS. We wish the student to focus on methods to (i) provide explanations capable of conveying fairness aspects, (ii) audit the system to examine fairness and discover latent source of bias via explanations, (iii) semi-automatically intervene to ensure system fairness, and (iv) interact with users to facilitate the above scenarios. The overall vision is to enable different stakeholders, such as RS providers, users (consumers, suppliers), and auditors, to query, understand, and fix sources of bias in RS, in an accessible, understandable, and transparent manner.

Tentative Research problems/questions:

Possible objectives of this doctoral position may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Objective 1. Fairness-aware explainability. The goal is to increase trust by providing fairness-specific explanations on the results of RS, as well as adaptively model the explanations to better convey the message to different user roles and groups.

Objective 2. Fairness correction. The goal is to provide the tools for unfairness discovery, assessment and correction, assisted via explainability and user interaction. An appropriate explanation engine might provide additional insight, indicating thus a bias in data. We envisage a system that effectively navigates the space of possible explanations to semi-automatically detect violations of fairness, that could not be manually recognized. Further, such a system decides on the appropriate fairness intervention approach based on fairness-aware explanations.

Objective 3. Interactive explanations. The goal is to design interactive methods for users to control, refine, adjust the explanation received, via means of follow-up explanations, and changes to fairness notions. A variety of visualization instruments will be developed, to satisfy different user roles and groups, while human-in-the-loop interaction will be supported towards optimizing the fairness and explainability processes.


The applicant needs to have a Master's degree in Computer Science or a related field and have demonstrated (during your studies towards the Master's degree or otherwise) the competence and motivation to pursue postgraduate studies. Please be prepared to provide proof of your merits when requested.

Successful candidates must be pursuing or will be accepted to study towards a doctoral degree in the Doctoral Programme of Humans and Technologies (DPHAT). Please visit the admissions webpage https: // www. with-us/programmes/doctoral-programmes for more information on eligibility requirements. Please, pay special attention to the language requirements.

The research topics require either:

  • Strong programming skills (preferably Python)
  • Background in Machine Learning, Data Science, or Artificial Intelligence
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English (shown for example by published work or a master thesis)
  • Preferred applicant's qualifications:

    The research topics require a strong interest and relevant experience in some of the following:

  • Good knowledge of AI frameworks, like TensorFlow, PyTorch
  • Interest in aspects of responsible data management
  • Experience with recommender system applications
  • Experience with fairness-aware machine learning
  • Experience with explainability methods
  • Critical thinking, quality-oriented and independent work, professional commitment
  • Willingness to learn and be cooperative
  • Candidates are selected based on the level of promise that they show, and this will be evaluated on the basis of their study and research interest description, their previous success in studies, and merits in writing the doctoral thesis and / or scientific publishing, as well as their background match to the research topic.

    Tampere University is a unique, multidisciplinary and boldly forward-looking, evolving community. Our values are openness, diversity, responsibility, courage, critical thinking, erudition building, and learner-centeredness. We hope that you can embrace these values and promote them in your work.

    We offer

    An applicant may only apply for maximum 3 Convergence positions from this list. This position number is 14.

    The position will be filled for a fixed-term period of maximum four (4) years. The starting date is 1 September 2023 or as mutually agreed. A trial period of six (6) months applies to all our new employees.

    The salary will be based on both the job requirements and the employee's personal performance in accordance with the salary system of Finnish universities. According to the criteria applied to teaching and research staff, the position of a Doctoral Researcher is placed on level 2—4 of the job requirements scale. A typical baseline starting salary for Doctoral Researchers is approximately 2,500 EUR/month.

    We are inviting you to be a part of a vibrant, active and truly international research community. We value interdisciplinarity, as it allows you to expand your research network and exposes you to new perspectives and ideas to solve complex research problems and pursue novel research findings. We are strongly committed to the highest level of scientific research and the provision of high-quality doctoral education.

    As a member of staff at Tampere University, you will enjoy a range of competitive benefits, such as occupational health care services, flexible work schedule, versatile research infrastructure, modern teaching facilities and a safe and inviting campus area as well as a personal fund to spend on sports and cultural activities in your free time. Please read more about working at Tampere University. You can also find more information about us and working and living Tampere by watching our video: Tampere Higher Education Community - our academic playground.

    Finland is among the most stable, free and safe countries in the world, based on prominent ratings by various agencies. Tampere is the largest inland city of Finland, and the city is counted among the major academic hubs in the Nordic countries. Tampere region is the most rapidly growing urban area in Finland and home to a vibrant knowledge-intensive entrepreneurial community. The city is an industrial powerhouse that enjoys a rich cultural scene and a reputation as a centre of Finland's information society. Tampere is also surrounded by vivid nature with forests and lakes, providing countless opportunities for easy-to-access outdoor adventures and refreshment throughout the year.

    Read more about Finland and Tampere:

  • Visit Finland
  • This is Finland
  • Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment: Welcome to Finland
  • Visit Tampere
  • How to apply

    To address these rising challenges, Convergence is looking for 16 funded doctoral researchers. Note, the applicant may only apply for 3 positions within Convergence.

    Please submit your application through our online recruitment system. The closing date for applications is 15 February 2023 (23:59 EET /UTC +2). Please write your application and all the accompanying documentation in English and attach them in PDF format.

    Please attach only the following documents (in PDF format) to your application:

  • A letter of motivation and description of your research interests (max. 2 page(s)). Named “SurnameMotivationLetter.pdf”
  • The selected applicant will have to apply and be admitted to the doctoral programme prior to the start of the work. The student needs to write a more detailed research plan at that stage.
  • Curriculum vitae according to the TENK template . Named “SurnameCV.pdf”
  • Pdf copy of your MSc and BSc degree certificates, including transcripts of all university records and their English translations (Finnish and Swedish certificates are also accepted).
  • If you do not have the certificates yet, please, include the letter from your university that provides the expected graduation date as well as your current transcript of records. Named “SurnameDegrees.pdf”
  • Certificate of language proficiency “Named “SurnameLang.pdf”
  • The minimum English language test result requirements : Test name: minimum test result (The previous CAE and CPE have been renamed as C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency): TOEFL iBT / TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition: 92 overall, with no section below 20; IELTS (academic) / IELTS Indicator: 6.5 overall, with no section below 5.5; PTE (academic): 62 overall, with no section below 54; C1 Advanced: C; C2 Proficiency: C1; Finnish National Certificate of Language Proficiency (English): Proficiency level 5
  • Exemptions to the language requirements : It is possible to be exempted from submitting a language test score if you have completed a higher education degree in English in certain countries . If you apply without a valid language test result, carefully examine the exemptions that your studies fulfil the requirements.
  • Either 2 Recommendation letters preferably OR the contact details of two referees if the first option is not possible, and with explained reasoning, e.g., your M.Sc. supervisors / employers. Named “SurnameRecommendations.pdf”
  • For further information, please contact the supervisors:

    Associate Professor Konstantinos Stefanidis , [email protected]

    Professor Thomas Olsson , [email protected]

    For general question about Convergence , contact: Coordinator, Dr. Aleksandr Ometov , [email protected]

    For questions about the doctoral studies enrollment, check DPHAT doctoral programme contacts.

    Summary in Finnish

    Tampereen yliopisto ja Tampereen ammattikorkeakoulu muodostavat yhdessä Suomen toiseksi suurimman monitieteisen, innostavan ja vaikuttavan tutkimus- ja oppimisyhteisön. Korkeakouluyhteisömme osaamiskärjet ovat tekniikka, terveys ja yhteiskunta. Lue lisää: www.

    ITC on käynnistänyt uuden monitieteisen tutkimussuunnan Ihmiset ja teknologiat -tohtoriohjelmaan (DPHAT) sijoittuvan CONVERGENCE – Ihmisen ja koneen konvergenssi -tutkimusalan puitteissa.

    Maailma on täyttymässä erilaisista koneista, autonomisista ajoneuvoista, reaaliaikaisista käännöstyökaluista, puettavasta teknologiasta ja muista laitteista, joissa ihmisen ja koneen välinen raja on katoamassa. Ihmisen ja koneen konvergenssi -ohjelman päätavoitteena onkin tutkia tulevaisuutta, jossa tietoa, asiantuntemusta ja taitoja voidaan siirtää reaaliajassa ja jossa tekoälyyn perustuvat toimijat ymmärtävät ja aistivat ihmistä reagoiden tähän ennakoiden ja eettisesti. Kehitys näyttää johtavan modernin ihmisen ja koneiden yhteistoimintaan ja rinnakkaiseloon eli konvergenssiin, joka tuo mukanaan täysin uusia tutkimusongelmia.

    Näiden haasteiden ratkaisemiseksi ITC-tiedekunta rekrytoi 16 palkkapaikallista väitöskirjatutkijaa. Jokaista opiskelijaa ohjaa pääohjaaja ja sivuohjaaja, jotka ovat eri aloilta (toinen yhteiskunta- ja humanistisista tieteistä ja toinen tekniikan alalta).

    Luodaan uutta eri alueet yhdistävää osaamista yhdessä!


    Väitöskirjatutkija (Reiluus ja Selitykset Suosituksissa)

    Tämä tohtorin tutkimusprojekti pyrkii edistämään tutkimusta selitettävyyden, reiluuden ja käyttäjävuorovaikutuksen leikkauksessa suositusjärjestelmien alueella. Projekti suunnittelee menetelmiä, jotka (1) antavat selityksiä, jotka pystyvät välittämään reiluusominaisuuksia, (2) auditoivat järjestelmän reiluuden tarkastelua varten ja löytävät latentteja biaksen lähteitä selitysten kautta, ja (3) vuorovaikuttavat käyttäjien kanssa edistääkseen ja ohjatakseen edellämainittuja skenaarioita. Projekti kattaa eri sidosryhmien tarpeet, kuten suositusten kuluttajien, suositettavien aineistonäytteiden tuottajat/tuojat, ja järjestelmien omistajat, joilla voi olla vaihteleva kokemus ja asiantuntemus järjestelmästä ja allaolevista tekoälyteknologioista.

    Hakuohjeet ja lisätiedot

    Jätäthän hakemuksesi yliopiston sähköisellä hakulomakkeella (linkki löytyy tämän ilmoituksen alta). Katso tarkemmat ohjeet ja yhteystiedot englanninkielisestä ilmoitukselta.

    Hakuaika tehtävään päättyy 15.2.2023 klo 23.59.

    Application period starts: 2022-12-30 13:00Application period ends: 2023-02-15 23:59

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