Are you not afraid to apply (deep) reinforcement learning techniques on a mix of structured and unstructured data? We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher interested in performing research on developing (deep) reinforcement learning techniques that can take structured data such as graphs, sequences, and lists as input or output data.

In the application domain of providing recommendations to users, input data is often strongly structured and multi-modal (knowledge graphs describing uses and items, complex interaction histories of the users, etcetera). Instead of providing a single or multiple recommendations, we might also want to give a more structured output, think of a list of articles that can be read in order to understand a complex topic, or a conditional plan: try reading X, but if it’s too complex, go for Y instead. In this position, your challenge will be to develop architectures and algorithms for neural models that allow taking in structured and multi-modal information such as user context, text, and a knowledge graph, and output structured recommendations; optimising such models from trial-and-error using reinforcement learning techniques.

The research will place within the Discovery lab. This lab is a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Elsevier. Our philosophy is to drive scientific discovery using machine intelligence. Our goal is to study and develop technology, infrastructure and methods to support the current transformation of science, specifically regarding data-driven activity, where scientists increasingly rely on intelligent tooling for searching and reading scientific literature, to formulate hypotheses, and to interpret data.

Researchers in this lab can conduct academic research at the university, and apply their findings with real world data and systems. This particular position is associated with the Amsterdam Machine Learning Lab (AMLAB). The Discovery Lab is also closely integrated with the INtelligent Data Engineering Lab (INDE Lab), the information and language processing systems group (ILPS) , and the Knowledge Representation and Reasoning group. We are also embedded within the Amsterdam data science and artificial intelligence ecosystem (e.g. Amsterdam Data ScienceInnovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI) and value practice-informed and interdisciplinary research and outreach. 

We strongly encourage applications coming from a unique perspective. Tell us how your background fits with the aims of the lab.

What are you going to do?

You are expected:

  • to invent, evaluate and describe novel architectures and algorithms for (deep) reinforcement learning with structured data;
  • to integrate and evaluate such algorithms in experimental scenarios, including applications in recommender systems;
  • 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 and the Discovery Lab;
  • to spend about 40% of your time working on your research projects from the Discovery lab space at the Elsevier office in Amsterdam;
  • to show independence in achieving research goals and collaborating with PhD students and researchers;
  • to contribute to teaching activities, such as lectures, lab courses, or supervising bachelor and master students (ca. 10% of your time).

What do we require?

  • A PhD degree in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, or a closely related field;
  • a strong scientific and mathematical background in artificial intelligence. Familiarity and interests with reinforcement learning is preferable;
  • a good academic record and eagerness to tackle complex scientific problems;
  • a record of publishing in relevant high-quality conferences or journals in the above fields;
  • strong programming skills, e.g. in Python, Java, Scala, C++. Preferably, you have experience with Python deep learning toolboxes;
  • ability to work well in teams and communicate fluently in written and spoken English;
  • ability to invent and evaluate novel algorithm, and present these orally and in writing.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 12 months. After a satisfactory evaluation the contract will be extended by 36 months

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,790 to €4,402 gross per month, based on 38 hours a week, 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? Then find out more about working at the Faculty of Science.

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.

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.


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

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 CV and cover letter by 20 January 2021. You may apply online by using the link below.

Applications should include:

  • a motivation letter that explains the reasons for applying to the position;
  • a curriculum vitae, including a list of publications;
  • a short research statement (1-2 pages), explaining your vision on the position’s research topic;
  • the names and contact addresses of at least two academic references (please do not include reference letters);
  • optionally, you could include a link or copy of your PhD thesis or forthcoming paper if you think this gives us a more complete picture than published papers alone.

We will invite potential candidates for interviews (possibly through Skype) around the beginning of February.

No agencies please

Apply now

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