PhD/Postdoc positions on Logic-based Agents, Conversational AI and Knowledge graphs

Dr. Shenghui Wang, Prof. Dirk Heylen and I have several PhD/postdoc positions available on the topics logic-based agents, knowledge representation & reasoning, formal methods as well as conversational AI & knowledge graphs in our group Human Media Interaction (HMI) at University of Twente, The Netherlands! You’re welcome to contact us if you want to know more!

Deadline for application: August 31st, 2021.


Digital information technology is increasingly interwoven with our society and individuals’ daily lives. On one hand, a tremendous amount of data becomes available in machine-interoperable formats while how humans can intuitively access and learn from such large-scale knowledge is becoming an urgent question. On the other hand, with these digital technologies tracking and influencing our everyday behaviour, they need to align with the user’s needs and values to become truly extensions of our “selves”.

Addressing these challenges requires both research on how to shape knowledge-centred human-machine conversations and meaning-making in an engaging and intuitive manner, as well as fundamental research regarding the formal specification and run-time revision of knowledge structures for modelling users’ norms and values in a personal agent. We have fully funded PhD/Postdoc positions available on the topics described in more detail below.

Conversational access of large-scale knowledge graphs

The aim is to investigate conversational AI technologies to achieve a meaningful, engaging and enjoyable interaction between individual persons and large-scale knowledge graphs. This includes selecting and packaging relevant information into narratives, choosing suitable strategies to convey knowledge. Such interaction needs to take into account the individuals’ cognitive and information processing capabilities as well as their personal norms and values.

Knowledge representation & reasoning for value-aligned personal agents

The aim is to develop formal knowledge representation and reasoning techniques that allow a personal agent to model the user’s (inter)personal norms, habits and underlying values, and revise these “personal knowledge structures” at run-time based on user input. Questions that can be addressed are for example: How to model temporal aspects of daily routines? Which types of update operations on personal knowledge structures are required? Is a new norm in conflict with existing desired behaviours? Can belief revision techniques be adapted for run-time norm revision? With this we lay the foundations for flexible and value-aligned personal agents that give people agency over their lives with digital technology.


We are seeking motivated candidates to work on these research topics for 4 years (PhD) or 3 years (Postdoc) within the Human Media Interaction group at University of Twente. The prospective candidates are expected to perform high quality and internationally visible research that gets published at top tier conferences and journals, and be involved in teaching and student supervision to a limited extent.


  • You hold or will soon hold a Master’s degree (or equivalent) or PhD in computer science, artificial intelligence, computational linguistics, human computer interaction or a related field
  • You have excellent proficiency in English in speaking and writing (C1; above IELTS 7 or equivalent);
  • You have good communication skills, take initiative, and have a strong interest in working in a multidisciplinary team;
  • For the first topic, your interest and experience in natural language processing, conversational agents or knowledge graph is desirable.
  • For the second topic, you have interest and experience in logic-based agents, knowledge representation and reasoning, or formal methods.


The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues. The terms of employment are in accordance with the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Universities (CAO) and include:

  • A PhD position for four years or a Postdoc position for three years
  • Full status as an employee at the UT, including pension and health care benefits.
  • The salary for a PhD position will range from € 2.395 (1st year) to € 3.061 (4th year) per month
  • The gross salary for a Postdoc position is between € 3.353 and €4.402 per month depending on experience and qualifications
  • Excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus of 8.3% and a solid pension scheme
  • Excellent facilities for professional and personal development.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support people from underrepresented groups to apply.


Applications will be accepted until all positions have been filled. The first round of interviews will be conducted based on applications received up to and including August 31, 2021. The earliest starting date is November 1st, 2021. Informal inquiries about these positions can be sent to Birna van Riemsdijk ( or Shenghui Wang ( More information about the HMI research group and the University of Twente can be found via the following links: PhD position, Postdoc position.

To apply, please follow the corresponding link and submit the following application material:

  • A letter of application in which you explain both your motivation and the relevance of your skills and experience for one or both of these research projects. The motivational letter should be on-topic, generic letters will cause your application to be rejected immediately.
  • A full Curriculum Vitae including your publications (if any), awards, and working experience. Your CV should demonstrate the scope of your work and education and indicate a good fit with the stated requirements for the position.
  • An academic transcript of BSc and MSc education, including grades.
  • When applying for a PhD position: your MSc thesis in English (or alternatively if your MSc thesis is not in English, a 5-page summary of your MSc thesis in English). When applying for the postdoc position: your PhD thesis (or a draft thereof).
  • References (contact information) of two scientific staff members (one of whom should be the supervisor of your MSc/PhD thesis) who are willing to be contacted by us.

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