The University of Agder has more than 1500 employees and almost 14 000 students. This makes us one of the largest workplaces in Southern Norway. Our staff research, teach and disseminate knowledge from a variety of academic fields. Co-creation of knowledge is our common vision. We offer a broad range of study programmes in many fields. We are situated at two modern campuses in Kristiansand and Grimstad respectively.
We are an open and inclusive university marked by a culture of cooperation. The aim of the university is to further develop education and research at a high international level.
About the position
The University of Agder invites applications for a full-time fixed-term appointment as PhD candidate in Technology/Information and Communication Technology for a period of three years. The position is currently located in Grimstad, Norway. The starting date is as soon as possible or to be negotiated with the Faculty.
The department has three large and active research groups in Information and Communication Technology including eight Professors, 20 Associate Professors/Assistant professors and about 20 Research Fellows on the PhD programme in ICT. The Department of ICT pursues a variety of research interests, focusing especially on ICT and crisis management, artificial intelligence, eLearning and eHealth. The department has successfully led a number of large research projects funded by the Research Council of Norway, the EU research programmes FP7 and H2020 as well as national and international industries.
Explainability of machine learning models is essential for transparency, fairness, safety, accountability, and acceptance of AI in society. This imperative particularly applies to reinforcement learning (RL) where an algorithm learns without human intervention.
We have recently introduced a novel, general RL paradigm that is inherently explainable where agents learn strategies that are partially decoupled from reward functions. Affinity-based RL (ab-RL) aims at (1) a parsimonious method based on a regularization of the objective function with a distinct action distribution that encourages RL agents (“prototypes”) to globally choose preferred actions based on desired agent traits, (2) an inherent interpretability which overcomes the challenges of opaque RL models that rely on post-hoc explanation and interpretation, and (3) creation of mixed strategy agents thru fuzzy time-variant compositions of prototypical policies that are globally interpretable.
The successful candidate will advance the ab-RL paradigm through the development of novel functionalities that extend the scope of its applications through a blend of theoretical and practical research.
The ideal candidate will have expertise in the following areas:
Documented experience, including courses, in reinforcement learning programming
Some mathematical sophistication will be helpful
Applications from applicants who already hold a PhD will normally not be considered. The candidate must hold a master’s degree in ICT, Computer Science or a similar/related field and document competence in areas relevant to the position.
Furthermore, the applicant must have:
Strong academic credentials
Written and spoken English proficiency
Communication and teamwork skills
In return, we offer the opportunity to contribute to the strategic capabilities of a world-class research organization, along with intensive PhD supervision. You will collaborate with top scientists in your field and have excellent prospects for personal development in an innovative working environment for aspiring researchers. Applicants will be assessed on the basis of academic background and results, attainment, and any previous research and development work. The PhD Research Fellow must be admitted to the PhD Programme in Technology, with ICT as specialization, within three months of appointment.
The following admission requirements apply to the PhD programme:
The average grade for courses included in the master's degree (or equivalent) must be B (or equivalent) or higher
The master's thesis (or equivalent) must have a grade B (or equivalent) or higher
The successful applicant must have written and spoken English proficiency. Applicants from some countries must document their English proficiency through one of the following tests or certificates:
TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language with a minimum score of 600 on the Paper-based Test (PBT), or a minimum of 92 on the Internet based Test (iBT)
IELTS - International English Language Testing System, with a result of at least 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5. (only Academic IELTS test accepted)
CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) certificate of at least Level B2
Personal suitability, good teamwork skills, inventiveness, and a proactive approach, will be emphasized in the evaluation as well as relevant practical experience. The PhD Research Fellow will be expected to contribute to an active research community that promotes the personal and professional growth of the doctoral candidate. The position places great demands on the applicant’s capacity for independent goal-oriented work, ability to concentrate and attention to detail.
professional development in a large, exciting and socially influential organisation
a positive, inclusive and diverse working environment
modern facilities and a comprehensive set of welfare offers
The position is remunerated according to the State Salary Scale, salary plan 17.515, code 1017 PhD Research Fellow, NOK 501 200 gross salary per year. A compulsory pension contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund is deducted from the pay according to current statutory provisions.
UiA is an open and inclusive university. We believe that diversity enriches the workplace and makes us better. We, therefore, encourage qualified candidates to apply for the position independent of gender, age, cultural background, disability or an incomplete CV.
Women are strongly encouraged to apply for the position.
The successful applicant will have rights and obligations in accordance with the current regulations for the position, and organisational changes and changes in the duties and responsibilities of the position must be expected. The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Appointment is made by the University of Agder’s Appointments Committee for Teaching and Research Positions.
In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act § 25 (2), applicants may request that they are not identified in the open list of applicants. The University, however, reserves the right to publish the names of applicants. Applicants will be advised of the University’s intention to exercise this right.
The following documentation should be submitted as attachments to the online application:
Certificates and/or grades for all post-secondary education, up to and including the bachelor's level
Master's degree/higher degree certificate, with a summary of the courses/subjects included in the degree
Applicants with a foreign higher education must attach an official description of the grading system used at the issuing institution Summary (approximately 1-2 pages) of the master's thesis
Applicants who are required to document their English proficiency must submit their TOEFL or IELTS test results (these may be forwarded after the closing date)
Summary or links to the applicant's scientific publications (if any)
A description of the candidate’s research interests and background for the project applied for
Original documents must be presented for verification to the University of Agder together with the copies by the appointed research fellow upon arrival at UiA. Successful candidates will be asked, normally during the interview, to ensure that the issuing university submits documents in a sealed envelope directly to UiA or provide access to their documents online, which allows UiA to verify the authenticity of these electronic documents via a secure website hosted at the issuing university (contact person at UiA will be provided later for certain candidates).
The applicant is fully responsible for submitting complete documentation within the deadline. Without complete documentation we cannot, unfortunately, include you in the assessment process.
All documentation of education must be in the original language and in English, and the translation should preferably be from the issuing university. Additional documentation must be in English.