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PhD position in Conversational AI - University of Stavanger

The University of Stavanger invites applicants for a Ph.D fellowship in Conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The position is vacant from 01.01.2021.

This is a trainee position that will give promising researchers an opportunity for academic development leading to a doctoral degree.

The appointment is for three years with research duties exclusively, or four years with both research and 25% compulsory duties. This will be clarified in the recruitment process.

The project is partially funded by Google.

Project description
Conversational search is a newly emerging research area within AI that aims to provide access to digitally stored information by means of a conversational user interface. The goal of such systems is to effectively handle a wide range of requests expressed in natural language, with rich user-system dialogue as a crucial component for understanding the user’s intent and refining the answers.

The overall objective of this project is to develop a prototype conversational search system for supporting scholarly activities (Scholarly Conversational Assistant). Scholarly activities of interest include, among others, finding relevant research material, planning conference attendance, or finding relevant experts to serve as speakers, committee members, etc. You can find further details on the envisioned functionality of the Scholarly Conversational Assistant here.

Specific areas of functionality targeted in the project concern the modeling of user knowledge, adapting the assistant’s language usage accordingly, and system-initiated (proactive) notifications.

The project is supervised by Prof. Krisztian Balog and co-supervised by Google research scientist Dr. Filip Radlinski.

The application must be accompanied by a cover letter explaining your interest in the project and the relevance of your background and experience. Applications without a cover letter will not be considered.

Qualification requirements
We are looking for applicants with a strong academic background who have completed a five-year master degree (3+2) within in information retrieval, machine learning, or natural language processing, preferably acquired recently; or possess corresponding qualifications that could provide a basis for successfully completing a doctorate. The candidate must be fluent in programming.

To be eligible for admission to the doctoral programmes at the University of Stavanger both the grade for your master’s thesis and the weighted average grade of your master’s degree must individually be equivalent to or better than a B grade.

Applicants with an education from an institution with a different grade scale than A-F should attach a confirmed conversion scale that shows how the grades can be compared with the Norwegian A-F scale.

Emphasis is also placed on your:
• motivation and potential for research within the field
• ability to work independently and in a team, be innovative and creative
• ability to work structured and handle a heavy workload
• having a good command of both oral and written English

Requirements for competence in English
A good proficiency in English is required for anyone attending the PhD program. International applicants must document this by taking one of the following tests with the following results:

• TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language, Internet-Based Test (IBT). Minimum result: 90
• IELTS – International English Language Testing Service. Minimum result: 6.5
• Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) og Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) from the University of Cambridge
• PTE Academic – Pearson Test of English Academic. Minimum result: 62

The following applicants are exempt from the above requirements:

• Applicants with one year of completed university studies in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, USA
• Applicants with an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma
• Applicants with a completed bachelor's and / or master's degrees taught in English in a EU/EEA country

We offer
• varied duties in a large, exciting and socially important organisation
• an ambitious work community which is developing rapidly. We strive to include employees at all levels in strategic decisions and promote an informal atmosphere with a flat organisational structure.
• colleague-based guidance programme (NyTi) if teaching is a part of your Ph.D
• salary in accordance with the State Salary Scale, 17.515, code 1017, NOK 482,200 gross per year with salary development according to seniority in the position
• automatic membership in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund, which provides favourable insurance- and retirement benefits
• favourable membership terms at a gym and at the SIS sports club at campus
• employment with an Inclusive Workplace organisation which is committed to reducing sick leave, increasing the proportion of employees with reduced working capacity, and increasing the number of professionally active seniors
• "Hjem-jobb-hjem" discounted public transport to and from work
• as an employee in Norway, you will have access to an optimal health service, as well as good pensions, generous maternity/paternity leave, and a competitive salary. Nursery places are guaranteed and reasonably priced
• relocation programme in event of moving to Norway, including support and language courses for spouses

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