PhD position Theory of neuromorphic computing (1.0 FTE)

Department

Faculty of Science and Engineering

Organisation

University of Groningen

Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative institution of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programmes and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 31,000 students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. As one of the best research universities in Europe, the University of Groningen has joined forces with other top universities and networks worldwide to become a truly global centre of knowledge.

Within the Faculty of Science and Engineering, department of AI, a 4-years PhD position is available at the Department of AI (Bernoulli Institute) of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, within the wider topical area of "Theory of neuromorphic computing".

Job description

The position holder will be a member of the group of Herbert Jaeger (https://www.rug.nl/staff/h.jaeger), who recently joined the University of Groningen. The position is funded through a personal startup fund, not by a third-party project, and offers great freedom for the position holder to define his/her own research agenda as long as it contributes to a mathematical / conceptual understanding of neuromorphic computing.

The local scientific context is the Research Center for Cognitive Systems and Materials (CogniGron, https://www.rug.nl/research/fse/cognitive-systems-and-materials/?lang=en). This is a recent, very substantial research initiative (10 new professorships, 30 PhD positions) of the University of Groningen. Jointly managed by the Bernoulli Institute (mathematics, computer science, AI) and the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials, the mission of CogniGron is to "to develop materials-centered systems paradigms for cognitive computing based on modelling and learning at all levels: from materials that can learn to devices, circuits and algorithms". This is a decidedly interdisciplinary enterprise at the interfaces between the materials sciences, microchip technology, computational neuroscience, cognitive science, AI, computer science and mathematics. Together with previously existing research groups at the university, the new ten CogniGron research groups will form a scientific microcosm of 20+ research teams.

Within this context, the group of Herbert Jaeger will work toward rigorous theoretical foundations of "neuromorphic computing". At present, this is only an umbrella term which covers a diversity of largely unconnected and limited models and methods. A guiding idea in this emerging field is to argue that (A) novel, energy-efficient, non-digital microchips share many properties with biological brains (such as extremely high dimensionality, spatial and modular organisation, strong nonlinearity, stochasticity, low numerical resolution, parameter drift, aging, always-on real-time operation); (B) biological brains function exceedingly well; (C) hence, it should be possible to realize high-performing computing in neuromorphic microchips by "learning from the brain". However, the neurosciences do not yet deliver a comprehensive theory of how the brain "computes". The research mission of Jaeger's group is to develop new formal, conceptual and algorithmic tools which can fill some of the gaps in our theoretical understanding. This may lead to the invention of novel mathematical description languages which unify elements of symbolic information processing (logic formalisms, Turing computability) and analog information processing (nonlinear dynamics, signal processing and control theory).

Requirements

The successful candidate should have a master's degree in computer science, AI, machine learning, signal processing and control, computational neuroscience, theoretical physics or mathematics (dynamical systems) or related fields.

The three main selection criteria are:

- the ability and inclination for rigorous conceptual thinking and mathematical formalization

- a strong interest in solving the riddles of information processing in complex dynamical systems (whether they be neural, technological, or even social)

- openness for working in a very interdisciplinary setting.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,325 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 2,972 gross per month in the fourth and final year, based on a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
• an 8.3% year-end bonus
• a position for four years; you will get a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years; prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years is to be expected
• a PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering.

Job Application

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include:

• letter of motivation
• CV (including contact information for at least two academic references)
• transcripts bachelor’s and master’s degree studies.

The applications can be submitted until 30 January 23:59 h / before 31 January 2020 Dutch local time by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Applications received before 2 December 2019 will be given full consideration; however, the position will remain open until it is filled.

We are an equal opportunity employer that values diversity. We have adopted an active policy to increase the number of female scientists across all disciplines of the university. Therefore, women are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), https://nvp-plaza.nl/download/?id=7714 and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers, https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/jobs/charter/code

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Dr. Herbert Jaeger (please do not use for applications)
h.jaeger@rug.nl

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 219551

Digital application form