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PhD Position at the Frontier of Statistical Physics, Information Theory and Computer Science

Faculty of Science – Institute of Physics & Informatics Institute

Vacancy details of PhD Position at the Frontier of Statistical Physics, Information Theory and Computer Science
Publication date 15 July 2021
Closing date 31 August 2021
Level of education Master's degree
Hours 38 hours per week
Salary indication €2,395 to €3,061 gross per month
Vacancy number 21-594

We are seeking a highly motivated candidate to work on the development of statistical physics models for data analysis. The successful candidate will be working in the group of Dr. Clelia de Mulatier at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) starting in the Fall of 2021.

The candidate is expected to work on the use of classical spin models for high order pattern recognition and information coding in binary data. In this context, recent studies have highlighted the existence of linear transformations (called gauge transformations) that map a model into another mathematically equivalent model. The group is interested in understanding how to use these transformations for data analysis. Depending on their background and affinity, the successful candidate may investigate research questions related to: uncovering symmetries in data, understanding information coding in multivariate systems, developing efficient Monte Carlo algorithms for Bayesian inference of high order patterns in data, or using formally simple models for data classification. The project will include applications to real datasets (in particular, possible applications to experimental data from neuroscience experiments).

The group is shared between the Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITFA) in the Institute of Physics (IoP) and the Informatics Institute (IvI). Within the institutes, the group is part of the Computational Science Lab (CSL) and Computational Soft Matter (CSM) Lab. The group also participates in activities organized by the Institute for Advance Study (IAS) and the Dutch Institute for Emergent Phenomena. The successful applicant will be embedded in a stimulating multi-disciplinary research environment. Depending on the evolution of the project, there may also be opportunities for international collaborations.

What are you going to do

You are expected to:

  • do original research at the intersection of statistical physics, information theory, computer science, and computational science;
  • develop new tools and algorithms for data analysis inspired from statistical physics;
  • actively participate in the activities of the Computational Science Lab and the Computational Soft Matter Lab (seminars, discussions, journal clubs, etc). Participate in seminars and activities organized by the Institute for Advance Study (IAS);
  • take part in the teaching effort of both groups, and assist with the supervision of bachelor and master students;
  • present your work at international workshops and conferences;
  • publish in high level international journals. 

What do we require of you

  • a Master’s degree in physics (e.g., theoretical physics, physics of complex systems, computational physics), in computer science, or in mathematics;
  • a strong interest in both theoretical and computational work;
  • interest in data analysis and machine learning;
  • some background in statistical physics of complex systems;
  • good knowledge in basic probability theory and in linear algebra;
  • good programming skills (e.g., python, C/C++), or some experience in programming and motivated for hacker mindset;
  • additional experience in mathematica and/or in matlab is a plus;
  • a motivated, passionate, and creative attitude;
  • excellent writing and communication skills in English.

Our Offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of four years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students. The starting date is flexible, but preferably early September 2021.

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,395 to €3,061 gross per month, based on a fulltime contract (38 hours a week). This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.

About us

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The mission of the Institute of Physics (IoP) is to carry out excellent research in the field of experimental and theoretical physics, to provide inspiring teaching within the physics and other curricula and to transfer our knowledge of and enthusiasm for physics to society. The IoP has over 50 faculty and 180 researchers in total. The combination with the NWO Institutes at Amsterdam Science Park constitutes the largest physics hub in the Netherlands and is an international centre of excellence.

Within the Institute of Physics, the Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITFA) covers many areas of research, from condensed matter theory to string theory.

The mission of the Informatics Institute is to perform curiosity-driven and use-inspired fundamental research in Computer Science. The main research themes are Artificial Intelligence, Computational Science and Systems and Network Engineering. Our research involves complex information systems at large, with a focus on collaborative, data driven, computational and intelligent systems, all with a strong interactive component.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

Job Aplication

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application.

The closing date has been extended to 31 August, 2021. The selection will start on 31 July 2021 and continue until the position is filled.

You can apply online by using the link below.

Please upload your application as a single .pdf document including:

  • a motivation letter (max. one page), explaining why you are interested in this position and why you think you are a good fit for it;
  • your CV;
  • a grade transcript (please also provide a short explanation of the grading system);
  • a pdf version of your MSc thesis (or, if not finalized yet, a preliminary version or a summary);
  • the names and email addresses of two academic referees, who can be contacted for further information.

Please mention the months (not just years) in your CV when referring to your education and work experience.

Please upload your final document via the “CV" field in the application form, using your first and last name as filename. Incomplete applications will not be considered.


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