4 year paid PhD position, computational linguistics, Groningen

Haiyang Ai

PhD Computational Linguistics: Parsing Algorithms for Uncertain Input


Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed
an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative center of
higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. The
Center for Language and Cognition Groningen, CLCG, is a research
institute based in the Faculty of Arts with research groups in
computational linguistics, syntax and semantics, discourse and
communication, and neurolinguistics. It offers a PhD position in the
area of computational linguistics.

Job description

Applications are invited for a PhD candidate in the area of
computational linguistics. The automated analysis of natural language
is an important ingredient for future applications which require the
ability to understand natural language. For carefully edited texts
current algorithms now obtain good results. However, for user
generated content such as tweets and contributions to Internet fora,
these methods are not adequate - for a variety of reasons including
spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes, unusual tokenization, partial
utterances, interruptions.

The proposed PhD studies a model of language analysis in which the
parser provides the analysis of the `intended' utterance, which
obviously is closely related to the observed input, but might be
slightly different. The relation between the observed sentence and the
intended sentence is modelled by a kernel function on input string
pairs. The kernel function might model errors such as disfluencies,
false starts, word swaps, etc. More concretely, this kernel function
can be thought of as a weighted finite-state transducer, mapping an
observed input to a weighted finite state automaton representing a
probability distribution over possible intended inputs. The parser
then is supposed to pick the best parse out of the set of parses of
all possible inputs - taking into account the various probabilities.

The study will focus on questions of the following types: can we
efficiently compute such an analysis (taking into account a variety of
possible formalizations), and what type of disfluencies, noise,
mistakes, etc, in the input can be effectively modeled in this


Master's degree in computational linguistics, artificial intelligence
or computer science excellent record of undergraduate and Master's
level study experience in the area of natural language processing,
statistical modeling and/or machine learning programming experience
ability to work in a research team strong motivation to complete a PhD
dissertation in four years good command of English (TOEFL 620, IELTS
7,5, Cambridge Advanced CAE).

Conditions of employment

The University of Groningen offers a salary of EURO 2,083 gross per month
in the first year to EURO 2,664 gross per month in the fourth year
(figures based on full employment). The 0,9 fte appointment is
temporary for a specified period of four years. The position requires
residence in Groningen, 34,2 hours/week research and research
training, and must result in a PhD dissertation. After the first year
there will be an assessment of the candidate's results and the
progress of the project to decide whether the employment will be


The PhD candidate will be affiliated with the computational
linguistics group of the Center for Language and Cognition Groningen
(CLCG) at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Groningen. This
institute embraces all the Linguistics research in the faculty. The
PhD candidate will be enrolled in the research training program of the
Graduate School for the Humanities and will be supervised by
Prof. Gertjan van Noord.


You may apply for this position before 25 October 2013 Dutch local
time by means of the application form

Please include in your application (in English): a letter of
motivation, curriculum vitae, a copy of diplomas with lists of grades,
and a passport copy. Please also provide reference letters by two
academic referees. Do mention the vacancy number in your application.

Send us your entire application in PDF format, using the link to the
application form. Incomplete dossiers will not be taken into
consideration. Interviews with a selection of the most appropriate
candidates will presumably take place at the end of October or early

The starting date of the PhD project is 1 January 2014.

Acquisition is not appreciated.


For further information you can contact:

Prof. Gertjan van Noord,
g.j.m.van.noord@rug.nl (please do not use for applications)