2 PhD positions in Machine Learning for Natural Language Processing

Faculteit/Dienst:  Faculteit der Natuurw., Wiskunde & Informatica
Opleidingsniveau:  Master
Functie type:  Promotieplaats
Sluitingsdatum:  21 augustus 2022
Vacaturenummer:  9665



The Language Technology Lab at the Informatics Institute of the University of Amsterdam invites application for two fully-funded, four-year PhD positions in Machine Learning for Natural Language Processing (NLP).  


Are you eager to work on context-aware, uncertainty-aware generative models of language, in order to develop concrete, high-level NLP technologies like machine translation, summarization, dialogue, to be used in interactive assistants? This position might be the one for you.


Specific lines of research for this project:


  • Controllability, constraints, and geometry in deep generative models of language via continuous representations, taking cue from recent developments in continuous energy-based models and diffusion models.
  • Representing, quantifying, and using uncertainty in generative models of language, conversations, or other linguistic structures;
  • Explainability methods for conditional language generation, in particular with long documents and contexts;
  • Adaptable, multi-modality aware generation, responsive to context, constraints and preferences.


One of the two positions is associated with the Hybrid Intelligence project, which studies intelligent systems that empower people and take human expertise and intentionality into account through interaction, controllability, and uncertainty awareness. Our research should lead to hybrid natural language technologies that can collaborate with people in trustworthy and controllable ways.


What are you going to do


You will work alongside LTL colleagues under the supervision of Dr. Vlad Niculae to investigate and improve NLP deep generative models in one or more of the directions discussed above. We will always put first the social and political impact of any technology we develop.
Tasks and responsibilities: 


With our help and support, you will:


  • Innovate uncertainty-aware / explainable / adaptable language generation models;
  • Design, implement, and perform controlled experiments to verify research hypotheses and answer fundamental research questions;
  • Complete and defend your PhD thesis;
  • Become an active participant in the research community and collaborate within and outside the Language Technology Lab;
  • Publish and present work regularly at international conferences, workshops, and journals;
  • Assist in teaching activities (labs / tutorials) and in supervising bachelor and master projects.


We care strongly about respecting work-life balance and contractual hours.


What do you have to offer


Your experience and profile:

  • A Master’s degree (completed or near completion) with a thesis in Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, Computer Science, or similar relevant areas;
  • serious interest in pursuing fundamental research with concrete applications;
  • a good background in Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning;
  • advanced programming skills;
  • professional command of the English language;
  • commitment to maintaining an inclusive, collaborative, diverse, and supportive work environment.


Interdisciplinary collaborations and backgrounds are appreciated, especially along fields related to linguistics and communication science. If this describes you, we encourage your application.

If you are interested but unsure if you are qualified, please contact Dr. Vlad Niculae before applying. If your Master’s degree is near completion, it must be completed before the start date. Knowledge of the Dutch language is not required for this position, and it is helpful but not necessary for living in Amsterdam. The UvA provides the opportunity to attend Dutch language classes.


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). The preferred starting date is Q4 of 2022. 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


The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2,541 to € 3,247 (scale P). This does not include 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% year-end allowance. The UFO profile PhD Candidate (Promovendus) is applicable. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.


Besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment at Science Park we offer you multiple fringe benefits:

  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime) and extra holidays between Christmas and 1 January.
  • Multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre.
  • A complete educational program for PhD students.
  • Multiple courses on topics such as leadership for academic staff.
  • Multiple courses on topics such as time management, handling stress and an online learning platform with 100+ different courses.
  • 7 weeks birth leave (partner leave) with 100% salary.
  • Partly paid parental leave.
  • The possibility to set up a workplace at home;
  • A pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution.
  • The possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;
  • Help with housing for a studio or small apartment when you’re moving from abroad.


Are you curious to read more about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits, take a look here.


About us


The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.


The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 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 (IvI) 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.


This position is with dr. Vlad Niculae, Assistant Professor in the Language Technology Lab (LTL). The LTL is a research group focusing on information access from natural language data. Our work ranges from basic research in natural language processing to key applications in human language technology, and covers areas such as machine translation, summarization, question answering, language modeling, and image captioning.


You will also benefit from collaborating with the Hybrid Intelligence Centre, a 10-year program funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science through the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, a collaboration between top research institutions in the Netherlands.


Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.




Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:


Job application


If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the button below. We accept applications until and including 21 August 2022.


Applications should include the following information (all files besides your CV should be submitted in one single pdf file):


  • a detailed CV including the months (not just years) when referring to your education and work experience;
  • a letter of motivation;
    •  no longer than 2 pages,
    • motivating your choice for this position;
    • indicating your preferred starting date and availability;
    • sketching out thoughts and ideas about the project (not a fully-detailed proposal.)
  • A summary of, or a copy of, your Master’s thesis;
  • A copy of your Master’s and Bachelor’s transcript/diploma.


If your MSc thesis is not finished or not in English, submit a brief summary in 1-4 pages. If your transcripts or diplomas are not available yet, please attach a note clearly stating which documents are not available, and when they will be available. This note can be in your own words.


Do not submit applications by e-mail.


Please make sure to provide ALL requested documents mentioned above. You can use the CV field to upload your resume as a separate pdf document. Use the Cover Letter field to upload the other requested documents, including the motivation letter, as one single pdf file.


Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered.


We will invite potential candidates for interviews soon after the expiration of the vacancy.



The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.


If you encounter Error GBB451, reach out to our HR Department directly. They will gladly help you continue your application.


No agencies please.