[robotics-worldwide] Fully funded PhD position at the University of Amsterdam in reinforcement learning for telepresence robotics

Shimon Whiteson shimon.whiteson at gmail.com
Tue Aug 6 00:46:30 PDT 2013

The Informatics Institute at the University of Amsterdam invites applications for a fully funded position for a PhD student in the area of reinforcement learning for telepresence robotics  The position is within the Intelligent Systems Lab Amsterdam and will be supervised by dr. Shimon Whiteson and. dr. Maarten van Someren.

Application closing date: 6 September  2013
Starting date: 1 December 2013 (later starting date is possible).
Duration: 4 years.

The research will focus on the development of new algorithms for discovering socially appropriate behavior for a semi-autonomous telepresence robot by integrating multiple sources of implicit feedback from the robot's environment.  Doing so will require new reinforcement learning techniques, as well as other types of machine learning.    The research will be conducted as part of a European project called "Telepresence Reinforcement Learning Social Robot (TERESA)", which the University of Amsterdam coordinates and collaborates on with several other European universities and companies.  The project aims to develop a socially intelligent semi-autonomous telepresence robot and successfully demonstrate its application in an elderly day center.

Applicants must have a master's degree in computer science or a closely related area.

In addition, a successful candidate should have:

* strong math skills.

* good knowledge of modern machine learning methods (specific knowledge of reinforcement learning and/or decision-theoretic planning is a plus).

* good knowledge of robotics.

* experience programming in at least one of the following languages: C, C++, Java, Python, or Perl.

* excellent oral and written communication skills.

The successful candidate will be based in the Intelligent Systems Lab Amsterdam (ISLA) within the Informatics Institute at the University of Amsterdam. The institute was recently ranked among the top 50 computer science departments in the world by the QS World University IT Rankings. ISLA consists of 20 members of faculty, 20 post-doctoral researchers, and more than 50 PhD students. Members of the lab are actively pursuing a variety of research initiatives, including machine learning, decision-theoretic planning and learning, multiagent systems, human-computer-interaction, natural language processing, information retrieval, and computer vision.

Some of the things we have to offer:

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

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

For further information, including instructions on submitting an application, see the official job ad at:


Informal inquiries can be made by email to Shimon Whiteson (s.a.whiteson at uva.nl).

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