Netherlands: Two PhD candidates in Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) at University of Amsterdam

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Job description

The Faculty of Science occupies 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 3,000 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 centers of academic research in the Netherlands.

The Informatics Institute (IvI) is one of the large research institutes with the faculty, with a focus on complex information systems divided in two broad themes: ‘Computational Systems’ and ‘Intelligent Systems.’ The institute has a prominent international standing and is active in a dynamic scientific area, with a strong innovative character and an extensive portfolio of externally funded projects.

Project description

The PhD research positions focus on improving state-of-the-art statistical machine translation approaches by investigating how better modelling of the generation process can be utilized to realize more fluent and accurate translations.  The research will aim to substantially improve machine translation quality by achieving:

  • robust translation quality across different genres, ranging from formal language use in legal documents to casual language use in social media;
  • novel approaches to modeling word reordering problems;
  • improved modelling of  fluency criteria, in particular for languages for which only limited training data are available.

Successful applicants will:

  • publish and present their research findings at international top-tier conferences;
  • make significant contributions to advancing the state of the art in machine translation;
  • actively participate in advancing our machine translation system and participate at international competitions against the world’s other leading academic and commercial systems;
  • interact with the commercial and governmental end-users of our machine translation system.

Requirements

Applicants for the PhD positions must have an MSc (or comparable degree) in computer science, artificial intelligence, computational linguistics, or a closely related area.

In addition, successful candidates should:

  • have strong curiosity to solve problems in natural language processing;
  • have a strong background in probability theory, statistics, and machine learning;
  • have excellent programming skills in at least two of the following languages: C, C++, Java, Python, or Perl;
  • 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.

Conditions of employment

Starting date: 1 January 2014 . 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 4 years) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. The PhD student is also expected to assist in teaching of undergraduates.

Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2,083 in the first year to €2,664 in the 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 Employment Agreement (CAO) of the Dutch Universities is applicable.

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.

Additional information

Further information can be obtained from:

The successful candidates will be based in the Informatics Institute at the University of Amsterdam. The Informatics Institute consists of more than 40 members of research faculty, over 25 post-doctoral researchers, and more than 100 PhD students. Members of the institute are actively pursuing a variety of research initiatives, including machine translation, natural language processing, (cross-language) information retrieval, social network analysis, computer vision, machine learning, and multi-agent systems. The institute was recently ranked among the top 40 computer science departments in the world by the 2013 QS World University Computer Science Rankings.

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