Two PhD Positions in AI and Computational Methods for Combatting Crime

Faculteit/Dienst:  Faculteit der Natuurw., Wiskunde & Informatica
Opleidingsniveau:  Master
Functie type:  Promotieplaats
Sluitingsdatum:  16 maart 2024
Vacaturenummer:  12596




Are you interested in performing cutting-edge research in Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Data Science or Computational Science / Complex Systems Science and want to develop tools to help combat crime? Then here is your chance, as the Informatics Institute at the University of Amsterdam is looking for two ambitious PhD students to develop forensically sound, unbiased, and transparent AI methods and Complex Systems Science methods to model, detect and explore patterns in financial and other big data sources which might hold evidence of organized crime.  The two PhD students will have their own focus and at the same time closely collaborate during their PhD. The approaches that will be considered are:


Project 1: the financial streams and related data in organized crime are highly complex and are composed of entities, relations, and group structure. These are conveniently captured using hypergraphs. Training complex AI detection and exploration models in a supervised manner is hampered by the lack of sufficient labeled training data. We therefore aim for an approach where we combine supervised learning with generative models. Thus, the generation of more and more realistic patterns and methods for detecting and exploring them go together and reinforce one another. At the same time, with external stakeholders, the tools will be applied to real-life data. This project is embedded in the MultiX group. 

 Project 2: This project will focus on detecting anomalies (e.g. excess volatility and price movements) in Financial Markets. We aim to develop network theory and agent-based models to understand the complexity of financial markets and its application to e.g. market abuse. Special emphasis will be on the modelling of the specific actors and their interactions including network reconstruction methods to further calibrate the underlying models.  The impact of interventions on the system as a whole is one of the key objectives. This project will be embedded in the Computational Science Lab (CSL).


The research projects are part of the interdisciplinary public-private research consortium COMCRIM: COMbatting CRIMes that undermine democratic societies governed by the rule of law in a smart and comprehensive manner. The project, led by Jill Coster van Voorhout, brings together 6 PhD students and 3 post-doctoral researchers in three lines of research: (i) socio-legal, (ii) computer science, and (iii) socio-economic and is conducted with various stakeholders including law enforcement agencies and financial institutions.  


What are you going to do?


You will conduct research and perform experiments to reach the objectives mentioned above. More specifically: 


Your tasks and responsibilities:

  • conduct research and perform experiments in developing advanced AI tools and computational methods;
  • publish and present research in international peer-reviewed conferences (e.g., ACM Multimedia, Neurips, ICLR, ACM Knowledge and Data Discovery, Scientific Reports, Network Science and/or related journals);
  • pursue and complete a PhD thesis within the appointed duration of four years;
  • collaborate with other researchers in the COMCRIM project as well as in the Informatics Institute (e.g. within the AI4Fintech and AI4Forensics programs). 
  • collaborate with the stakeholders of COMCRIM to understand their needs and provide them with the tools developed; 
  • assist in teaching activities, such as teaching labs/tutorials in courses and supervising bachelor/master students.



What do you have to offer?


  • a relevant master’s degree to the PhD topic of interest, e.g., Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Computational Science, or Computer Science;
  • research experiences in artificial intelligence / data science (project 1), computational science / complex systems (project 2), or related topics;
  • solid programming skills with experience using Python and deep learning / simulation frameworks;
  • the willingness to work collaboratively with other researchers, and stakeholders;
  • an eagerness to contribute to combatting and understand crime;
  • professional command of English (both verbal and written).


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 as soon as possible. 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 gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2,770 in the first year to € 3,539 in the last year (scale P). UvA additionally offers an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. The UFO profile PhD Candidate 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 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 (UvA) is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 42,000 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 (FNWI) 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.


The Multimedia Analytics Lab Amsterdam (MultiX) led by Worring performs research on multimedia analytics by developing AI techniques for getting the richest information possible from the data, and visualizations, and interactions surpassing human and machine intelligence. We blend multi-modal data in effective interfaces for applications and social impact in public health, forensics and law enforcement, cultural heritage, and data-driven business.


The Computational Science Lab (CSL) led by dr Mike Lees focuses on the information processing of complex and dynamic natural systems. Complex natural system systems consist of individual entities that interact with each other and the environment. They have mechanisms and rules by which they operate, but it is very hard to predict their behaviour. You need computational techniques to simulate the process and understand future behaviour. The predominant question the group tries to answer: How can you use computational techniques to make complex natural systems tractable?

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


Any questions?


Do you have any questions, or do you require additional information? Please contact:
Project 1: Prof. Marcel Worring
Project 2: Prof. Drona Kandhai


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 the 15th of March. 


Applications should include the following information (all files apart from 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 (at most two pages) explaining which of the two positions you are interested in, why you are interested in that position, and how your experience fits the position;
  • a transcript of records with grades and all university courses taken;
  • a list of publications (in case of joint authorship, please clearly indicate your own contribution) or a link to one writing sample available online (e.g., in the university library, open online repository, or Google Drive), such as your Master’s thesis;
  • names, affiliations, and email addresses of 2 referees who could provide letters of recommendation (please do not include any reference letters in your application).


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.


A knowledge security check may be part of the selection procedure.
(for details: National knowledge security guidelines).


Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered. Please don’t send any applications by email.


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/ GBC451, please try using a VPN connection when outside of the European Union. Please reach out directly to our HR Department if the error continues. They will gladly help you with your application.


No agencies please.