PhD position in scaling up recommendations for software energy efficiency (1.0 FTE)

Hours per week: 
38 to 38
Faculty of Science
Department of Information and Computing Sciences, Software Technology
Application deadline: 

Job description

In software development, energy efficiency is an important requirement for software that runs on power-hungry servers and on battery-powered mobile devices such as smartphones and laptops. Developers are becoming more and more aware of the importance of energy for the environment and end-users and are interested in building more energy-efficient software. However, thinking about energy-efficient algorithms and solutions is not a typical skill for a developer. Usually developers are specialists in the platforms, frameworks, and application domains which they are used to working with. Most of them, however, are not specialists in energy efficiency and they are unable to clearly determine the energy impact of a design or implementation decision.

The development of non-trivial software systems typically employs programming constructs, idioms, libraries, components, and tools for which there are multiple, interchangeable, readily-available solutions with potentially different energy footprints. The decision of choosing one the solutions over its alternatives may have only a small impact on the energy consumption of a large software system. However, the aggregation of hundreds or even thousands of these decisions can significantly affect energy efficiency. It is not economically feasible for a human developer to consider these small decisions with care in practical scenarios. This research project aims to address this problem.

In this proposal we aim to tackle two important, related problems. The first one is how to make these decisions in a way that considers different aspects of software implementation, such as collections, IO primitives, usage of components such as the GPS (in mobile devices), GPU usage, among others. The second one is how to scale up these decisions and their implementation, so that thousands of software systems can be made more efficient in an automated manner.

In this PhD position you will carry out research on the automated identification of energy hotspots and the efficient recommendation of alternative solutions. Besides you will develop approaches and tools to refactor, re-engineer, and estimate the energy impact of these modifications on software-intensive systems.

Apart from the research, 30% of your time will be spent teaching Utrecht University’s undergraduate courses.


We are looking for a candidate who:

  • holds a Master's degree or equivalent in Computer Science or a closely related topic and has excellent academic qualifications. Candidates without a Master's degree have until 1 November 2021 to complete the final exam;
  • has good communication and collaboration skills;
  • has strong coding skills;
  • is proficient in English and in reporting scientific findings.

The following qualifications are considered as a plus:

  • you are a native Dutch speaker;
  • you already have experience in teaching undergraduate-level courses;
  • experience in profiling and performance measurement and modeling.


  • a position for five years;
  • a full-time gross salary that starts at €2,395 and increases to €3,061 per month (scale P Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao);
  • 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions, based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the cao for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here.

About the organisation

The Department of Information and Computing Sciences is nationally and internationally renowned for its fundamental and applied research in computer science and information science. In our constantly changing (digital) society, the Department of Information and Computing Sciences is constantly looking for new, realistic ways to push the boundaries of both science and social applications. We contribute to innovative information technologies through the development and application of new concepts, theories, algorithms, and software methods. Relevant areas of interdisciplinary research include Game Research, Foundations of Complex Systems, Applied Data Science, and Artificial Intelligence.

The Department has, among others, close collaborations with the University Medical Centre, the Departments of Physics and Mathematics, and the Faculties of Humanities and Geosciences. The Department offers Bachelor's programmes in Computer Science and Information Science, and six English language Research Master's programmes in Artificial Intelligence, Business Informatics, Computing Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Game and Media Technology, and Applied Data Science. High enrolment figures and good student ratings make education very successful. The department currently contains 17 Chairs and 109 other scientific staff, including Postdocs and PhD candidates.

At the Faculty of Science, there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects. Find out more about us.

Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do attitude of our people. This fundamental connection attracts Researchers, Professors and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the university and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international and wonderfully diverse community. Utrecht University has seven faculties, a student body of 30,000 students, and has produced 12 Nobel prize winners throughout its history.

Additional information

If you have any questions about this position, please contact Dr. Fernando Castor via

Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role, then simply respond via the “Apply now” button! Please enclose:

  • your letter of motivation;
  • your curriculum vitae.

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone who may be interested, please forward this vacancy to them.

Please note: Due to the current situation regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews is subject to change. Initial interviews will most likely be conducted online.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

The application deadline is 6 December 2021.