PhD position in Collective Decision Making in Social Networks (1.0 FTE)


Faculty of Science and Engineering


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 35,000 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, a 4-years PhD position is available at the Bernoulli Institute for Mathematics, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence with the topic of collective decision making in social networks. The candidate would become a member of the Multi-Agent Systems Group of the Artificial Intelligence Department and will work primarily under the supervision of Dr Zoé Christoff. The second supervisor (“promotor”) will be Prof. Davide Grossi.

Job description

How do social networks affect group decision making? The way social networks constrain information flows is a key factor in how agents take decisions, which in turn impacts voting results. On the one hand, formal tools to capture information and social influence in multi-agent systems abound in recent logic and formal philosophy literature. On the other hand, thanks to decades of social choice theory research, properties of voting systems are very well understood.
However, only little is known about the interaction between networks and voting processes so far.

The goal of this PhD project is to fill this gap by providing foundational analytical results answering questions such as:

- to which extent do social networks affect collective decision processes?
- how are different voting systems (such as direct, representative or delegative democracy) performing when taking into account that the population of voters is structured into a network?
- are there ways to provably improve that performance?
In this project we will:
- investigate the foundations of collective decision making processes in networks of agents
- lay the theoretical groundwork for modelling and analysing how information, opinions, network structures and collective decisions interact
- develop principled methods for evaluating how much collective decision making procedures resist/succumb to specific network effects.

The objective of the temporary position is the production of a number of research articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and conference proceedings, which together will form the basis of a thesis leading to a PhD degree (Dr) at the University of Groningen.


The successful candidate should:

- have a keen interest in pursuing fundamental and interdisciplinary research at the interface of social choice theory, logic, formal and social epistemology, social network analysis, multi-agent systems, and collective artificial intelligence
- have a master’s degree or equivalent in logic, theoretical/mathematical philosophy, artificial intelligence, computer science, or another relevant field
- good analytical skills and a positive attitude towards interdisciplinary work.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

We offer you, following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,395 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,061 gross per month in the fourth and final year for a full-time working week
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus
• a full-time position (1.0 FTE). The successful candidate will first be offered 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

Application should include:

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

You can submit your application until 23 May 11:59pm / before 24 May 2021 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Applications received before 24 May 2021 will be given full consideration; however, the position will remain open until it is filled.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Dr Zoé Christoff

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 221204

Extra informatie kan worden verkregen via een van de volgende links:

Dr Zoé Christoff Bernoulli institute for Mathematics, Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Multi-Agent Systems Group

Digital application form