Three PhD positions in Conversational Search

Three PhD positions in Conversational Search

Published Deadline Location
9 Nov 30 Nov Amsterdam

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Job description

Do you care about creating intelligent systems that connect people to information that’s useful and reliable? We are looking for three PhD students who are interested in conducting research into conversational search systems that help users discover consumer services (news, music, games, apps, etc). The research will take place in the DReaMS Lab, a collaboration between the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the University of Amsterdam, and the Huawei Consumer Business Group. Our philosophy is to support consumer exploration and discovery using machine intelligence in ways that are humane and safe.

The three positions that we are offering focus on three different aspects of multi-modal conversational search:

Position 1: User intent modeling and prediction
How can we help machines develop an understanding of a user’s multi-modal intent? Can we learn rich preference, task, and context representations for this purpose?

Position 2: Online evaluation from conversational user interactions
How should a conversational assess its own success or failure while offering users multi-modal content from a range of sources based on mobile or voice-based interaction signals?

Position 3: Unbiased learning to rank from conversational interactions
How can a conversational system learn from past interactions with users so as to inform its future actions? What types of presentation bias emerge in a conversational setting and how can we correct for this?

We strongly encourage applications coming from a unique perspective. Don’t just send us your CV but tell us how your background fits with the position of your choice and with the aims of the lab.

What are you going to do?

You are expected to:

  • create, evaluate and describe novel algorithms and architectures for conversational search and complex question answering;
  • integrate and evaluate such algorithms in experimental scenarios, with a focus on multi-modal consumer services;
  • present research results at national and international conferences, workshops and journals;
  • become an active member of the research community and to collaborate with other researchers, both within and outside the Informatics Institute;
  • pursue and complete a PhD thesis within the appointed duration of four years;
  • assist in teaching activities, such as teaching labs and tutorials or supervising bachelor and master students.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


What do we require?

  • A Master’s degree in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, or a closely related field;
  • a thorough understanding of both information retrieval and machine learning;
  • an interest in algorithm development and in their implications for people impacted by those algorithms;
  • solid programming skills and experience in Python and machine learning frameworks;
  • the ability to work in multidisciplinary teams;
  • a good knowledge of English (written and spoken);
  • knowledge of an European language other than English. This is not required but very helpful as we will be working with multiple European languages.

Conditions of employment

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). This 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 undergraduates and master students.

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,395 to €3,061 (scale P) gross per month, based on a full-time contractof 38 hours a week. This is 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.


University of Amsterdam

With over 5,000 employees, 30,000 students and a budget of more than 600 million euros, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is an intellectual hub within the Netherlands. Teaching and research at the UvA are conducted within seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. Housed on four city campuses in or near the heart of Amsterdam, where disciplines come together and interact, the faculties have close links with thousands of researchers and hundreds of institutions at home and abroad.  

The UvA’s students and employees are independent thinkers, competent rebels who dare to question dogmas and aren’t satisfied with easy answers and standard solutions. To work at the UvA is to work in an independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.


Faculty of Science - 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.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2395—€3061 per month
  • University graduate
  • 20-681


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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