News and Events: Open Positions

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2 PhD Students in Machine Translation (EU Project)

Faculty of Science - Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC)

6 november 2012
Education level
HBO / University
Salary indication
€2.042 (first year) to €2.612 (final year), gross per month
Closing date
30 november 2012
Position size
for 38 hours per week
Vacancy number

The Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) is a research institute at the University of Amsterdam, in which researchers from the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Humanities collaborate. Its central research area is the study of fundamental principles of encoding, transmission and comprehension of information. Research at ILLC is interdisciplinary, and aims at bringing together insights from various disciplines concerned with information and information processing, such as computational linguistics, logic, mathematics, computer science, linguistics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence and philosophy.

Applications are invited for two Ph.D. positions in Language and Computation at the ILLC, specifically in Machine Translation.

Both positions are four-year Early Stage Researcher pre-doctoral positions. The positions are part of the new EU Framework 7 Marie-Curie Network EXPERT, concerned with the exploitation of empirical approaches to machine translation, including statistical machine translation and example-based machine translation. The EXPERT project brings together researchers from six European universities (University of Wolverhampton (UoW), University of Sheffield (USFD), Universidad de Malaga (UMA), Universitaet des Saarlandes (USAAR), Dublin City University (DCU) and Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA)) and five translation services and technology providers (Pangeanic, Hermes and Translated, Celer Soluciones and WordFast).

The two positions at the ILLC (UvA) concern research towards:

Position 1

Exploiting hierarchical alignments for linguistically-informed SMT models to meet the hybrid approaches that aim at compositional translation (UvA, including 3-month visit to USAAR and 3-month visit to USFD)

Position 2

Exploiting hierarchical alignments for a semantically-enriched SMT system that offers an extension to existing TMs to allow incremental, recursive partial match of the input using hierarchical constructions containing variables (UvA, including 3-month visit to UoW, 2-month visit to Wordfast and 1-month visit to Hermes).

The research will be conducted under supervision of Dr. Khalil Sima'an (ILLC-UvA) with opportunities for collaborative work with other universities and industrial partners in the consortium, and includes a total of 6 months' secondment to 2-3 consortium members based on the topic of research. This is a great opportunity to work in a well-connected international team of the leading universities and industrial partners.

Job Description

Both PhD students are expected to:

  • complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • regularly present intermediate research results at international conferences and workshops, and publish them in proceedings and journals;
  • collaborate with the other team and project members on common research targets;
  • collaborate with the researchers in other relevant parts of the EXPERT project and the ILLC;
  • assist in relevant teaching activities.


The candidate should have:

  • a Master's degree with excellent grades in a relevant field, including Statistical Machine Translation, Natural Language Processing, Computational Linguistics, Machine Learning or other related empirical branches of Artificial Intelligence;
  • suitable background in parsing formal grammars, probabilistic modelling and statistical learning;
  • experience in programming and affinity with empirical work involving corpora;
  • good academic writing and presentation skills;
  • good social and organizational skills;
  • strong interest in a scientific career.

Eligibility Criteria

Appointment will be subject to the eligibility requirements of the Marie Curie programme, which specify that early stage researchers must be, at the time of recruitment, in the first four years of their research careers, measured from the date when they obtained the qualification which would entitle them to embark on a doctorate. As per Marie Curie Terms and Conditions, researchers must not have resided in the country of application for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the appointment.

Please check Section III.3 of the following link for further information on the Marie Curie scheme regarding eligibility criteria:

The Research Executive Agency requires all its funded projects to endeavour to ensure a fair female representation by promoting genuine equal access opportunities between men and women throughout the recruitment process. To this end, female candidates meeting the requirements for these posts are particularly encouraged to apply.

Further Information

For further information on the position, please feel free to contact:


The full-time appointment will be on a temporary basis for a maximum period of four years (18 months plus a further 30 months after a positive evaluation) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings.

The gross monthly salary will range from 2042 Euro in the first year to 2612 Euro in the final year, according to the Dutch salary scales for PhD students. The collective employment agreement (CAO) of Dutch universities is applicable.

The successful applicant will work under the daily supervision of Dr Khalil Sima'an. The main focus of the appointment is on research, but also includes moderate teaching duties in subjects relevant to the candidate's research activities. The preferred starting date is 1 February 2013 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Job Application

Applications (PDF only, all information in a single file) for the PhD position should include a short letter of motivation, a detailed CV, a list of grades obtained for your Master's degree (or equivalent), as well as names and contact details of two academic referees. Please also include a link to an online version of your Master's thesis or other publications.

The application process consists of two compulsory stages:

Stage 1

Go to and enter the basic details requested. You will receive a reference number and confirmation.

Stage 2

Applications should be sent by email to the personnel department of the Faculty of Science at with a CC to with the subject line "Vacancy number 12-251: PhD EXPERT/ILLC". Please attach a copy of your confirmation and reference number received from

NB: Only applicants completing BOTH of the above stages will be taken into consideration.

The closing date for all application is 30 November, 2012.

Please note that this newsitem has been archived, and may contain outdated information or links.