Netherlands: PhD in Computational Linguistics at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG)

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Job description

Applications are invited for a PhD candidate in the area of computational linguistics. The automated analysis of natural language is an important ingredient for future applications which require the ability to understand natural language. For carefully edited texts current algorithms now obtain good results. However, for user generated content such as tweets and contributions to Internet fora, these methods are not adequate – for a variety of reasons including spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes, unusual tokenization, partial utterances, interruptions.

The proposed PhD studies a model of language analysis in which the parser provides the analysis of the `intended’ utterance, which obviously is closely related to the observed input, but might be slightly different. The relation between the observed sentence and the intended sentence is modelled by a kernel function on input string pairs. The kernel function might model errors such as disfluencies, false starts, word swaps, etc. More concretely, this kernel function can be thought of as a weighted finite-state transducer, mapping an observed input to a weighted finite state automaton representing a probability distribution over possible intended inputs. The parser then is supposed to pick the best parse out of the set of parses of all possible inputs – taking into account the various probabilities.

The study will focus on questions of the following types: can we efficiently compute such an analysis (taking into account a variety of possible formalizations), and what type of disfluencies, noise, mistakes, etc, in the input can be effectively modeled in this approach?

Requirements

– Master’s degree in computational linguistics, artificial intelligence or computer science
– excellent record of undergraduate and Master’s level study
– experience in the area of natural language processing, statistical modeling and/or machine learning
– programming experience
– ability to work in a research team
– strong motivation to complete a PhD dissertation in four years
– good command of English (TOEFL 620, IELTS 7,5, Cambridge Advanced CAE).

Conditions of employment

The University of Groningen offers a salary of € 2,083 gross per month in the first year to € 2,664 gross per month in the fourth year (figures based on full employment). The 0,9 fte appointment is temporary for a specified period of four years. The position requires residence in Groningen, 34,2 hours/week research and research training, and must result in a PhD dissertation. After the first year there will be an assessment of the candidate’s results and the progress of the project to decide whether the employment will be continued.

Affiliation
The PhD candidate will be affiliated with the computational linguistics group of the Center for Language and Cognition Groningen (CLCG) at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Groningen. This institute embraces all the Linguistics research in the faculty. The PhD candidate will be enrolled in the research training program of the Graduate School for the Humanities and will be supervised by Prof. Gertjan van Noord.

Application
You may apply for this position before 25 October 2013 Dutch local time by means of the application form (click on “Apply” below the text of the vacancy on the university’s website).
Please include in your application (in English): a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae, a copy of diplomas with lists of grades, and a passport copy. Please also provide reference letters by two academic referees. Do mention the vacancy number in your application.
Send us your entire application in PDF format, using the link to the application form. Incomplete dossiers will not be taken into consideration. Interviews with a selection of the most appropriate candidates will presumably take place at the end of October or early November.
The starting date of the PhD project is 1 January 2014.

Acquisition is not appreciated.

Contract type: 48 maanden

Organisation

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG)

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Department

Faculty of Arts

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative center of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. The Center for Language and Cognition Groningen, CLCG, is a research institute based in the Faculty of Arts with research groups in computational linguistics, syntax and semantics, discourse and communication, and neurolinguistics. It offers a PhD position in the area of computational linguistics.

Additional information

Prof. Gertjan van Noord
g.j.m.van.noord@rug.nl
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