PhD position in logic and verification for AI – Utrecht University

Deadline for application: October 20th, 2014

For the ERC consolidator project “Responsible Intelligent Systems” (REINS) we are looking for a PhD student to be employed in the division of artificial intelligence at the department of information and computing sciences.


The REINS project aims to provide a framework for automating responsibility, liability, and risk checking for intelligent systems. As intelligent systems are increasingly integrated into our daily life, the division, assignment and checking of responsibilities between human and artificial agents become increasingly important. From robots in medicine, the military and transportation (self-driving cars); to automated trading agents on the financial markets (algotrades); to automated monitoring, prediction and protection systems (pacemakers, automated surveillance, early warning systems); we delegate more and more responsibility to intelligent devices. By delegating responsibilities to intelligent devices, we run the risk of losing track of our indirect legal and moral liabilities.

The REINS project divides into three sub-projects: sp1: ”Logics of Collective Responsibility”, sp2: “Grades of Responsibility relative to Normative Systems” and sp3: “Formal Responsibility Checking”. With positions in sub-projects 1 and 2 being fulfilled we are now soliciting applications for the PhD position on the third sub-project.

REINS sub-project 3: “Formal Responsibility Checking”

In the Formal Responsibility Checking sub-project we investigate how to apply known techniques from the program verification domain (model checking, theorem proving) to the responsibility checking domain. We aim to develop translations from logical formalisms for representing (graded) responsibilities and normative systems, such as the ones developed in sub-projects 1 and 2, to formalisms for which model checkers and theorem provers already exist.

Starting date: February 1st, 2015 (later or earlier dates may be negotiated)
Goal: Suitable algorithms for responsibility checking through theorem proving and model checking
Scientific context: computer science, philosophy, logic, artificial intelligence

*Job Description*

Candidates are expected to:
– complete and defend a PhD thesis within the nominal time-frame;
– regularly present intermediate research results at our internal colloquium and at international workshops and conferences;
– collaborate with the other researchers in the REINS project;
– participate in the organization of research activities and events such as conferences, workshops and symposia;
– assist in teaching tasks and/or take on teaching responsibilities.

*Conditions of employment*

The PhD position is a full-time position for 4 years. Salary starts at € 2,042.- and increases to € 2,612.- gross per month in the fourth year of the appointment. The salary is supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8,3% per year. In addition we offer: a pension scheme, a partially paid parental leave, flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities. More information is available on:

*Utrecht University*

Utrecht University has great ambitions for its teaching quality and study success rates. This also applies to its clear research profiles which are centred around four themes: Sustainability, Life Sciences, Youth & Identity, and Institutions. Utrecht University plays a prominent role in our society and contributes to finding the answers to topical and future societal issues.

*Faculty of Science*

The Faculty of Science consists of six departments: Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Information and Computing Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry and Mathematics. The Faculty is home to 3500 students and nearly 2000 staff and is internationally renowned for the quality of its research. The Faculty’s academic programmes reflect developments in today’s society.

*Department of Information and Computing Sciences*

The Department of Information and Computing Sciences is nationally and internationally well known for its fundamental research in computer science and as an initiator in the area of game technology. The department’s research activities are clustered into four divisions, viz. Virtual Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, Interaction Technology, and Software Systems. The Department of Information and Computing Sciences offers educational bachelor programs in computer science and information science, and four (English) research master programs, viz. Game and Media Technology, Computing Science, Business Informatics, and Artificial Intelligence. Three years ago the Department introduced a track on Game Technology in the bachelor program in computer science, which led to a substantial annual increase of bachelor students. The bachelor programs are the largest computer science and information science programs in the Netherlands

*Division Artificial Intelligence*

The division Artificial Intelligence comprises the chairs Intelligent Systems, Decision Support Systems and Algorithmic Data Analysis. Together these groups cover a broad spectrum of subjects in Artificial Intelligence, ranging from symbolic logic approaches to sub-symbolic evolutionary approaches; from agent programming to machine learning; from knowledge discovery to knowledge representation; from Bayesian networks to applied algorithmics for AI.

*How to apply*

Candidates are invited to send (1) a motivation letter, (2) a CV, (3) the email address of a referee, and (4) a master thesis plus grades by following the instructions on the vacancies page of our faculty or on the vacancies page of our department Deadline for applications is October 20th, 2014. For any further information on the project or the vacancies one can contact dr. Broersen at email address or professor John-Jules Charles Meyer at email address


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