Postdoc within the Research Project Optimal

Postdoc within the Research Project Optimal

Published Deadline Location
20 May 29 Jun Amsterdam

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Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) has a vacancy in the Life Sciences and Health research group for a talented Postdoc within the research project OPTIMAL.

Job description

OPTIMAL (Optimization for and with Machine Learning) is a Dutch ENW-GROOT project funded by NWO (2019-2025), offering 5 PhD and 6 PostDoc positions in the Netherlands, starting from September 2020 or later. The institutes and researchers involved in OPTIMAL are Tilburg University (Dick den Hertog and Etienne de Klerk), Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), Amsterdam (Nikhil Bansal, Monique Laurent and Leen Stougie) and Delft University of Technology (Karen Aardal and Leo van Iersel).

Project description
A key component of machine learning is mathematical optimization, that is used, for example, to train neural networks. The goal of this project is to provide new analysis and tools for optimization problems and algorithms arising in machine learning, but also to use insights and tools from machine learning to improve optimization methods. This explains the project title ‘Optimization for and with machine learning’.

The project consists of four connected work packages. The first two work packages are related to ‘optimization for machine learning’.

In the first work package we will investigate why the optimization methods currently used in machine learning are often successful in practice and analyse the limits of their computational tractability.

The second work package is aimed at enhancing the existing optimization algorithms and developing new ones to obtain more accurate machine learning models in an efficient way.

The last two work packages are related to ‘optimization with machine learning’.

The third work package is aimed at using machine learning to obtain data-centric approximation and optimization algorithms. We will develop algorithms that adapt to the specific data characteristics of the problem instance. The advantage of such data-centric algorithms is more accurate solutions and/or less computation time.

In the fourth work package we will develop a data-centric optimization modelling approach. In such an approach parts of the resulting optimization model are obtained via machine learning. This data-centric modelling can be used to get more accurate models or can be used in cases where there is no theoretical knowledge available to build the model manually. In addition, we will test our insights on a variety of applications where the consortium members are already involved, including classification problems in the medical sciences, decision problems related to the UN World Food Programme, and routing of shared, self-driving cars.

Job description
The postdoc works together with a PhD positioned at the Technical University Delft on the following two topics, from work packages 2 and 3, which can be divided either way over the two positions.

The first topic concerns the use of Machine Learning within the Fixed-Parameter Tractability framework, in order to develop algorithms that provably return optimal solutions and have good running time on practical data sets. Such algorithms will, for example, be designed for problems in phylogenetics (reconstructing evolutionary histories).

The second topic concerns the use of Optimization techniques such as Integer Linear Optimization to find optimal solutions to machine learning problems. These algorithms will be applied, for example, to classification problems in the medical sciences.


Centrum Wiskunde en Informatica (CWI)


Candidates are required to have a completed PhD in the area of (Applied) Mathematics, Computer Science or a related discipline. In addition, you need to have an interest in, knowledge of and some experience with algorithm development, analysis and implementation. Needed qualifications for candidates include proven research talent and good academic writing and presentation skills. Candidates are expected to have an excellent command of English.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

The terms of employment are in accordance with the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Research Centres ("CAO-onderzoeksinstellingen"). The gross monthly salary for an employee on a full time basis, depending on relevant work experience, ranges from € 3,653 to € 4,452. The appointment will be for a period of one year with a possible extension of another year.

Employees are also entitled to a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.33%. CWI offers attractive working conditions, including flexible scheduling.

Please visit our website for more information about our terms of employment:


About Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science and is part of the Institutes Organisation of NWO. The mission of CWI is to conduct pioneering research in mathematics and computer science, generating new knowledge in these fields and conveying it to trade, industry, and society at large.

CWI is an internationally oriented institute, with 160 scientists from approximately 27 countries. The facilities are first-rate and include excellent IT support, career planning, training, and courses.

CWI is located at Science Park Amsterdam that is presently developing into a major location of research in the natural sciences in The Netherlands, housing the sciences of the University of Amsterdam and of the Vrije Universiteit as well as several other national research institutes next to CWI.


Research group

To find more information about the group, please visit the group page:


  • Postdoc
  • Natural sciences; Engineering
  • max. 36 hours per week
  • €3653—€4452 per month
  • Doctorate
  • AT Postdoc OPTIMAL


Centrum Wiskunde en Informatica (CWI)

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