PhD student, within the research project OPTIMAL

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) has a vacancy in the Networks & Optimization research group for a talented PhD student, within the research project OPTIMAL. OPTIMAL (Optimization for and with Machine Learning) is a Dutch ENW-groot project funded by NWO (2019-2025), offering 5 PhD and 6 PostDoc positions in the Netherlands. The institutes and researchers involved in OPTIMAL are University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam (Dick den Hertog), Tilburg University, Tilburg (Etienne de Klerk), Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), Amsterdam (Monique Laurent, Guido Schäfer and Leen Stougie) and Delft University of Technology, Delft (Karen Aardal and Leo van Iersel).

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) has a vacancy in the Networks & Optimization research group for a talented PhD student, within the research project OPTIMAL.

OPTIMAL (Optimization for and with Machine Learning) is a Dutch ENW-groot project funded by NWO (2019-2025), offering 5 PhD and 6 PostDoc positions in the Netherlands. The institutes and researchers involved in OPTIMAL are University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam (Dick den Hertog), Tilburg University, Tilburg (Etienne de Klerk), Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), Amsterdam (Monique Laurent, Guido Schäfer and Leen Stougie) and Delft University of Technology, Delft (Karen Aardal and Leo van Iersel).

Job description

A key component of machine learning is mathematical optimization, that is used, for example, to train neural networks. The goal of this project is to provide new analysis and tools for optimization problems and algorithms arising in machine learning, but also to use insights and tools from machine learning to improve optimization methods. This explains the project title ‘Optimization for and with machine learning’. The project consists of four connected work packages.

The first two work packages are related to ‘optimization for machine learning’.
In the first work package we will investigate why the optimization methods currently used in machine learning are often successful in practice and analyse the limits of their computational tractability.
The second work package is aimed at enhancing the existing optimization algorithms and developing new ones to obtain more accurate machine learning models in an efficient way.

The last two work packages are related to ‘optimization with machine learning’.
The third work package is aimed at using machine learning to obtain data-centric approximation and optimization algorithms. We will develop algorithms that adapt to the specific data characteristics of the problem instance. The advantage of such data-centric algorithms is more accurate solutions and/or less computation time.
In the fourth work package we will develop a data-centric optimization modelling approach. In such an approach parts of the resulting optimization model are obtained via machine learning. This data-centric modelling can be used to get more accurate models or can be used in cases where there is no theoretical knowledge available to build the model manually. In addition, we will test our insights on a variety of applications where the consortium members are already involved, including classification problems in the medical sciences, decision problems related to the UN World Food Programme, and routing of shared, self-driving cars.

The PhD student will work on topics related to work package 3.
The main objectives will be to design and analyse of algorithms for basic machine learning tasks, broadly construed. The emphasis will be on developing new theoretical concepts and rigorous methods, based on techniques from optimization and going beyond worst-case analysis, to understand the behaviour of learning-augmented algorithms on real-world data. In addition, the goal will be to use the developed techniques to design new algorithms that exploit (machine-learning) predictions and provide (provable) performance guarantees.

Requirements

Candidates are required to have a Master’s degree in Computer Science, (Applied) Mathematics, or a related discipline is required. Preferable qualifications for candidates include proven research talent and interest in theoretical computer science, an excellent command of English, and good academic writing and presentation skills.

Terms and conditions

The terms of employment are in accordance with the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Research Centres ("CAO-onderzoeksinstellingen"). The initial labour agreement will be for a period of 18 months. After a positive evaluation, the agreement will be extended by 30 months. The gross monthly salary, for a PhD student on a full time basis, is € 2,441 during the first year and increases to €3,128 over the four year period. Employees are also entitled to a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.33%. CWI offers attractive working conditions, including flexible scheduling and help with housing for expat employees.

Please visit our websites for more information about our terms of employment: 
https://www.cwi.nl/jobs/terms-of-employment and
https://www.nwo-i.nl/en/working-at-nwo-i/jobsatnwoi/​​​​​

Information and application

Applications will be considered in rounds until the position is filled. The deadline for the first application round is 20 August 2021.
All applications should include a detailed resume, motivation letter, list of three references, list of your MSc courses and grades, copy of your (draft) Master’s thesis and preferably a list of publications.
For residents outside the EER-area, a Toefl English language test might be required.

For more information about the vacancy, please contact prof. dr. Guido Schäfer, email g.schaefer@cwi.nl. 
For more information about OPTIMAL, please visit https://optimal.uva.nl or contact prof. dr. ir. Dick den Hertog, email  d.denhertog@uva.nl

For more information about CWI, please visit www.cwi.nl or watch our video about working at CWI.

Diversity code

CWI encourages a diverse workforce: we endeavour to develop talent and creativity by bringing people from different backgrounds and cultures together. We recruit and select based on capabilities and talent. We strongly encourage everyone with the appropriate qualifications to apply for the vacancy, regardless of age, gender, origin, sexual orientation or physical abilities.

About CWI

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science and is an institute of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The mission of CWI is to conduct pioneering research in mathematics and computer science, generating new knowledge in these fields and conveying it to trade, industry, and society at large. CWI is an internationally oriented institute, with 160 scientists from approximately 30 countries. The facilities are first-rate and include excellent IT support, career planning, training, and courses. CWI is located at Amsterdam Science Park which is home to one of the largest concentrations of beta science in Europe. A melting pot of innovation. Companies looking to collaborate can work together with brilliant students, scientists and fellow entrepreneurs. Collectively they develop revolutionary solutions for today’s issues and tomorrow’s challenges.

About Research group

To find more information about the group, please visit the group page and watch their video.