PhD positions on Logic-based Agents, Conversational AI and Knowledge Graphs

University of Twente

Netherlands

September 1, 2021

Description

Job description

Digital information technology is increasingly interwoven with our society and individuals' daily lives. On one hand, a tremendous amount of data becomes available in machine-interoperable formats while how humans can intuitively access and learn from such large scale knowledge is becoming an urgent question. On the other hand, with these digital technologies tracking and influencing our everyday behaviour, they need to align with the user's needs and values to become truly extensions of our “selves”.

Addressing these challenges requires both research on how to shape knowledge- centered human-machine conversations and meaning-making in an engaging and intuitive manner, as well as fundamental research regarding the formal specification and run-time revision of knowledge structures for modelling users' norms and values in a personal agent. We have fully funded positions available on the topics described in more detail below.

Conversational access of large scale knowledge graphs: The aim is to investigate conversational AI technologies to achieve a meaningful, engaging and enjoyable interaction between individual persons and large scale knowledge graphs. This includes selecting and packaging relevant information into narratives, choosing suitable strategies to convey knowledge. Such interaction needs to take into account the individuals' cognitive and information processing capabilities as well as their personal norms and values.

Knowledge representation & reasoning for value-aligned personal agents: The aim is to develop formal knowledge representation and reasoning techniques that allow a personal agent to model the user's (inter)personal norms, habits and underlying values, and revise these “personal knowledge structures” at run-time based on user input. Questions that can be addressed are for example: How to model temporal aspects of daily routines? Which types of update operations on personal knowledge structures are required? Is a new norm in conflict with existing desired behaviours? Can belief revision techniques be adapted for run-time norm revision? With this we lay the foundations for flexible and value-aligned personal agents that give people agency over their lives with digital technology.

We are seeking motivated, positive and hardworking candidates to work on these research topics for 4 years full-time within the Human Media Interaction group at University of Twente. The prospective candidates are expected to perform high quality and internationally visible research that gets published at top tier conferences and journals, and be involved in teaching and student supervision to a limited extent.

Your profile
  • You have, or will shortly acquire, a Master's degree (or equivalent) in computer science, artificial intelligence, computational linguistics, human computer interaction or a related field;
  • You have excellent proficiency in English in speaking and writing (C1; above IELTS 7 or equivalent);
  • You have good communication skills, take initiative, and have a strong interest in working in a multidisciplinary team;
  • For the first topic, your interest and experience in natural language processing, conversational agents or knowledge graph is desirable.
  • For the second topic, you have interest and experience in logic-based agents, knowledge representation and reasoning, or formal methods.
  • Our offer

    The terms of employment are in accordance with the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Universities (CAO) and include:

  • A fulltime PhD position for four years, with a qualifier in the first year;
  • Full status as an employee at the UT, including pension and health care benefits;
  • The salary will range from € 2.395 (1st year) to € 3.061,- (4th year) per month, plus a holiday allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Excellent facilities for professional and personal development.
  • Starting date of the position: November 1st (earliest starting date).

    We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support people from underrepresented groups to apply.

    Information and application

    Are you interested to be part of our team? Please submit your application before September 1st 2021 via the ‘Apply now' button below and include:

  • A letter of application in which you explain both your motivation and the relevance of your skills and experience for one or both of these research projects. The motivational letter should be on-topic, generic letters will cause your application to be rejected immediately.
  • A detailed Curriculum Vitae including your publications (if any), awards, and working experience. Your CV should demonstrate the scope of your work and education and indicate a good fit with the stated requirements for the position.
  • An academic transcript of BSc and MSc education, including grades.
  • Your MSc thesis or the latest draft in English (or alternatively if your MSc thesis is not in English, a 5-page summary of your MSc thesis in English).
  • References (contact information) of two scientific staff members (one of whom should be the supervisor of your MSc thesis/final project) who are willing to be contacted by us.
  • The first interviews are scheduled in September. Please take these dates into account.

    For further information about these positions, please contact: Dr. Shenghui Wang (shenghui.wang@utwente.nl) or Dr. Birna van Riemsdijk (m.b.vanriemsdijk@utwente.nl)

    About the department

    The Human Media Interaction (HMI) group does research into multimodal interaction: from brain computer interfaces to social robots. It is a multidisciplinary group in which computer science meets social science to investigate and design and evaluate novel forms of human-computer interaction. The HMI group is heavily involved in the MSc. programme “Interaction Technology” and the BSc. programme “Creative Technology”.

    The research of our group concerns the perception-action cycle of understanding human behaviors and generating system responses, supporting an ongoing dialogue with the user. It stems from the premise that understanding the user –by automated evaluation of speech, pose, gestures, touch, facial expressions, social behaviors, interactions with other humans, bio-physical signals and all content humans create– should inform the generation of intuitive and satisfying system responses. Our focus on understanding how and why people use interactive media contributes to making interactive systems more socially capable, safe, acceptable and fun. Evaluation of the resulting systems therefore generally focuses on the perception that the user has of them and the experience that they engender. These issues are investigated through the design, implementation, and analysis of systems across different application areas and across a variety of contexts.

    For further information, click here

    About the organization

    The faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) uses mathematics, electronics and computer technology to contribute to the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). With ICT present in almost every device and product we use nowadays, we embrace our role as contributors to a broad range of societal activities and as pioneers of tomorrow's digital society. As part of a people-first tech university that aims to shape society, individuals and connections, our faculty works together intensively with industrial partners and researchers in the Netherlands and abroad, and conducts extensive research for external commissioning parties and funders. Our research has a high profile both in the Netherlands and internationally. It has been accommodated in three multidisciplinary UT research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centre and Digital Society Institute.

    University of Twente (UT)

    University of Twente (UT) has entered the new decade with an ambitious, new vision, mission and strategy. As ‘the ultimate people-first university of technology' we are rapidly expanding on our High Tech Human Touch philosophy and the unique role it affords us in society. Everything we do is aimed at maximum impact on people, society and connections through the sustainable utilisation of science and technology. We want to contribute to the development of a fair, digital and sustainable society through our open, inclusive and entrepreneurial attitude. This attitude permeates everything we do and is present in every one of UT's departments and faculties. Building on our rich legacy in merging technical and social sciences, we focus on five distinguishing research domains: Improving healthcare by personalised technologies; Creating intelligent manufacturing systems; Shaping our world with smart materials; Engineering our digital society; and Engineering for a resilient world.

    As an employer, University of Twente offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With us, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customisable conditions.

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