PhD students on innovating model-based evolutionary algorithms from algorithmic foundations to medical applications

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI, the Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science) located in Amsterdam, and the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) together have 10 vacancies for fully funded PhD students, on innovating model-based evolutionary algorithms from algorithmic foundations to medical applications.

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI, the Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science) located in Amsterdam, and the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) together have 10 vacancies for fully funded

PhD students,

on innovating model-based evolutionary algorithms from algorithmic foundations to medical applications.

Job description
Evolutionary Algorithms (EAs) are metaheuristic search methods. Their underlying concept of improving multiple solutions at once is a powerful one, making them popular for tackling complex optimization and machine-learning problems. EAs are increasingly considered a key ingredient needed to fundamentally advance AI.

The ability to exploit important structural features of a problem can make the difference between obtaining efficient, i.e., low-polynomial, and inefficient, i.e., exponential, scale-up of the time required to find the optimum as problem size increases. At CWI, a dedicated research line exists on the development of state-of-the-art model-based EAs that automatically detect, learn, and incorporate problem structure to achieve superior performance. At the forefront of this research line is the Gene-pool Optimal Mixing Evolutionary Algorithm (GOMEA) that has been shown to be capable of solving single- and multi-objective optimization benchmark problems with millions of variables on ordinary desktop computers.

GOMEA further has unique properties that lend itself to achieve excellent results for real-world problems. CWI collaborates closely with medical centres to improve clinical practice, particularly in radiation oncology. Already, this has led to winning awards from both the EA field as well as the radiation oncology field and an uptake of software in clinical practice to improve the design of brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy) treatment plans for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Building upon these successes, CWI, in collaboration with LUMC, have recently acquired funding for various projects that together comprise 10 PhD positions. Briefly, these projects are as follows:

  • Fast, accurate, and insightful brachytherapy treatment planning for cervical cancer through AI: 1 PhD student at CWI and 1 PhD student at LUMC (both positions on extending our award-winning automated brachytherapy treatment planning approach to cervical cancer, including making novel combinations with machine learning)
  • DAEDALUS - Decentralized and Automated Evolutionary Deep Architecture Learning with Unprecedented Scalability: 1 PhD student at CWI (on designing GOMEA variants for scalable distributed deep neural architecture search), 1 PhD student at LUMC (on real-world medical applications in medical image analysis and radiation therapy dose analysis with multiple treatment centres)
  • EXAMINE - Evolutionary eXplainable Artificial Medical INtelligence Engine: 1 PhD student at CWI (on designing GOMEA variants for full (deep) neural network (and autoencoders) evolution and its integration in an explainable AI engine) [1 PhD student position at LUMC already filled]
  • TRUST-AI - Transparent, Reliable and Unbiased Smart Tool for Artificial Intelligence: 2 PhD students at CWI (on innovating the genetic programming variant of GOMEA for symbolic regression with niching and mixed-constant evolution and on finetuning the algorithms to work in clinical practice regarding rare tumors in the head and neck region) [in close collaboration with LUMC]
  • MODIR - Multi-Objective Deformable Image Registration: 2 PhD students at LUMC (on using GOMEA on a GPU to optimize high-dimensional models of tissue deformations and finetuning algorithms to work in clinical practice for the pelvic region) [1 postdoc and 1 PhD student position at CWI already filled]

All PhD students are intended to work on and/or with novel GOMEA variants. However, some positions are more fundamental than others and sometimes there is room to shift content somewhat between topics. It is vital to understand that in all cases, a thorough understanding of the underlying algorithmics and their software implementation is essential. Hence, candidates should ensure that they have the proper background and motivation when applying. Moreover, as all positions are part of larger collaborative projects, candidates are expected to spend at least one day per week at the other institute. Finally, several of the above projects also have international research partners (in Europe, the US, Australia, and New Zealand). Candidates are therefore expected to be open to spend time abroad with these research partners.

Requirements
Candidates are required to have a Master’s degree in computer science, artificial intelligence, or similar areas with relevant experience. If you are obtaining your Master’s degree in the coming months, you are also invited to respond.

Applicants are required to have excellent programming skills (with strong C/C++/Java experience highly desired). Applicants are further expected to have an excellent command of English.

Terms and conditions PhD Student
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 €2,407 during the first year and increases to €3,085 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 website for more information about our terms of employment: https://www.cwi.nl/jobs/terms-of-employment

Note: In case of an employment contract at LUMC, the terms of employment are comparable and in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for University Medical Centres in the Netherlands (CAO-UMC).

Application
Applications can be sent up to and including Sunday, July 19, 2020. Applications must be sent by e-mail to apply@cwi.nl and must include: a detailed CV, a letter of motivation including research interests and reasons for applying, Bachelor’s and Master’s level certificates and a lists of courses followed (at Bachelor’s and Master’s level) including obtained grades.

The starting date is variable, depending on the project.

For residents outside the EER-area, a Toefl English language test might be required.

For more information about the vacancies, please contact Peter A.N. Bosman, peter.bosman@cwi.nl

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

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 Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica
Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science and is part of the Institutes Organisation of the Dutch Research Council (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 27 countries. The facilities are first-rate and include excellent IT support, career planning, training, and courses.

CWI is located at Science Park Amsterdam, the home of AMS-IX, that is presently developing into a major location of research in the physical sciences in the Netherlands, housing the sciences of the University of Amsterdam as well as several other national research institutes next to CWI.

Research group
For more information about the research of the Life Sciences and Health group at CWI, please visit our website http://www.cwi.nl/research/groups/life-sciences-and-health