PhD candidate in Data Science for Language Understanding and Search

Faculty of Science – Informatics Institute

17 mei 2018
Master's degree
€2,222 to €2,840 gross per month
14 juni 2018
38 hours per week

The Faculty of Science holds a leading position internationally in its fields of research and participates in a large number of cooperative programs with universities, research institutes and businesses. The faculty has a student body of around 6,000 and 1,500 members of staff, spread over eight research institutes and a number of faculty-wide support services. A considerable part of the research is made possible by external funding from Dutch and international organizations and the private sector. The Faculty of Science offers thirteen Bachelor's degree programs and eighteen Master’s degree programs in the fields of the exact sciences, computer science and information studies, and life and earth sciences.

Since September 2010, the whole faculty has been housed in a brand new building at the Science Park in Amsterdam. The instalment of the faculty has made the Science Park one of the largest centres of academic research in the Netherlands.

The Informatics Institute is one of the large research institutes with the faculty, with a focus on complex information systems divided in four broad themes: Artificial Intelligence, Computational Science, Data Science en Systems and Network Engineering. We have a prominent international standing and are active in a dynamic scientific area, with a strong innovative character and an extensive portfolio of externally funded projects.

Project description

This PhD position is part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) project on Smart Culture (Art Datis) in addressing in-domain search and language understanding challenges in digital humanities. The team will consist of the successful candidate, one PhD candidate in Art History, and researchers and developers from the Netherlands Institute for Art History, The FREE GLASS Foundation, and Picturae. The position focuses at developing the search technology in the field of art history, where newly digitized textual records, spanning a long period of time, need to be enriched, linked, and become searchable.

To this end, the research in this project will build on natural language understanding, information extraction, and information retrieval methodologies that allow the processing, enrichment, linking, and comprehending textual by:

  • modelling the semantics of language along time;
  • developing algorithms that link resources along time;
  • facilitating search and exploration in large heterogeneous collections;
  • translating relevant questions of importance in Art History into novel data science solutions.

As successful applicants you will:

  • publish and present their research findings at international top-tier conferences and/or in leading journals;
  • make significant contributions to advancing the state of the art in information retrieval and natural language understanding.


As applicant for this PhD position you must have an MSc in computer science, artificial intelligence, data science, or a closely related area. 

In addition, you should:

  • have a strong background in information retrieval, natural language processing, statistics and machine learning;
  • have excellent programming skills in at least one programming languages, preferably Python or C++;
  • have some experience with deep learning programming frameworks (TensorFlow, Torch, PyTorch, Caffe, etc.);
  • enjoy working with real-world problems and real-word, large data sets;
  • have excellent communication skills, both oral and written;
  • enjoy working in a closely collaborating team.

Further information

You may obtain further information from:


The appointment will be on a temporary basis for a period of 4 years (initial appointment will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it can be extended for a total duration of 48 months) 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 of bachelor and master students. Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2,222 (first year) to €2,840 (last year). There are also secondary benefits, such as 8% holiday allowance per year and the end of year allowance of 8.3%. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Among other things, we offer:

  • competitive pay and excellent benefits;
  • extremely friendly working environment;
  • high-level of interaction;
  • international environment (10+ nationalities in the group);
  • access to high-end computing facilities (cluster with 4,000+ cores);
  • new building located near the city center (10 minutes by bicycle) of one of Europe’s most beautiful and lively cities.

Since Amsterdam is a very international city where almost everybody speaks and understands English, candidates need not be afraid of the language barrier.

You will be based in the Informatics Institute at the University of Amsterdam. Our Institute consists of more than 40 members of research faculty, over 25 postdoctoral researchers, and more than 100 PhD students. Members of our institute are actively pursuing a variety of research initiatives, including information retrieval, computer vision, machine learning, and multimedia analytics. You will spend one day per week at the Netherlands Institute for Art History in The Hague to facilitate the collaboration with the afore-mentioned partners.

Job application

The UvA is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We value a spirit of enquiry and endurance, provide the space to keep asking questions and cherish a diverse atmosphere of curiosity and creativity.

You may only submit your application by electronic mail using the link below.

We will accept applications until 14 June 2018.

The committee does not guarantee that late or incomplete applications will be considered.

Please do not send or copy your application to Prof. E. Kanoulas – it will get lost.

Your application should include your curriculum vitae, a transcript of your BSc and MSc course grades, and a letter of motivation. Please include the names and contact details of three references. The letter of motivation should summarize:

  1. your interest in information retrieval and natural language understanding;
  2. evidence of your suitability for the job;
  3. any relevant research contributions in the past, such as your MSc project or any publication, and
  4. what you hope to gain from the position.

Please group all these in a single PDF attachment. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

Gepubliceerd door  Universiteit van Amsterdam