PhD position in Differential and Probabilistic Programming (1.0 FTE)

Onderwijs en onderzoek
Uren per week: 
36 tot 40
Faculteit of dienst: 
Faculteit Betawetenschappen
Department of Information and Computing Sciences, Software Technology
Uiterlijk reageren op: 


The Department of Information and Computing Sciences at Utrecht University is looking for a junior researcher who wants to jump-start a career by becoming a PhD student in Differential and Probabilistic Programming. This position can be taken up as a five-year contract with 70% research time and 30% teaching time. This position provides an excellent opportunity to develop an academic profile as a competent Researcher and capable Teacher.

As a PhD candidate you would be primarily responsible for conducting excellent research in Differential and Probabilistic Programming. This research should result in successfully obtaining a PhD degree during the appointment. You will also be involved in supporting the preparation and teaching of Bachelor's and Master's level courses, supervising student theses, managing research infrastructure, and participating in public outreach.

You will join the Software Technology group led by Gabriele Keller to conduct research in the field of Mathematical Aspects of Computer Science. The daily supervision will be done by Matthijs Vákár. The focus of this position is on differential and probabilistic programming techniques, as used in machine learning and computational statistics. This exciting new field of research combines knowledge from machine learning, programming languages, scientific computing, and statistical physics communities. Projects could include developing new differential and probabilistic programming techniques, giving mathematical proof of their correctness and efficiency, building state-of-the-art implementations of these new techniques, and applying them to solve real-world problems. As this research group contains core members of the Accelerate and Stan projects, newly developed techniques could quickly have a large impact and reach a large audience of end-users. The precise focus of the position will depend on the candidate's strengths and interests.

You will be involved in teaching activities within the Department of Information and Computing Sciences. Teaching activities may include supporting senior teaching staff, conducting tutorials, and supervising student projects and theses. These activities will contribute to the development of your didactic skills.


As a successful candidate you are a driven student who

  • holds a Master’s degree with research experience in a relevant discipline like Computer Science, Mathematics, or Physics;
  • has excellent English communication skills;
  • has a strong interest in research and is motivated to explore the areas of differential and probabilistic programming and mathematical aspects of computer science, more generally.

In particular, we are looking for enthusiastic candidates who will take the initiative to make the most of the academic freedom offered in this PhD position.


  • a position for 5 years;
  • a full-time gross salary that starts at €2,325 and increases to €2,972 per month (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities);
  • salary is supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% per year;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao).

We offer an exciting opportunity to contribute to an ambitious and international education programme with highly motivated students and to conduct your own research project at a renowned research university. You will receive appropriate training, personal supervision, and guidance for both your research and teaching tasks, which will provide an excellent start to an academic career.

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 agreements on professional development, leave and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your personal terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This way we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

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

Over de organisatie

The Department of Information and Computing Sciences is nationally and internationally renowned for its research. Current research groups are Algorithmic Data Analysis, Algorithms and Complexity, Decision Support Systems, Simulation of Complex Systems, Geometric Computing, Multimedia, Human-Centered Computing, Social and Affective Computing, Visualisation and Graphics, Interaction Technology, Process Management and Analytics, Organization and Information, Natural Language Processing, Intelligent Systems, Data Intensive Systems, Software Technology and Software Technology of Learning and Teaching. Relevant areas of interdisciplinary research include Artificial Intelligence, Game Research, Foundations of Complex Systems, Applied Data Science and Integrative Bioinformatics. The Department has, among others, close collaborations with the University Medical Center, 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 five English language Research Master's programmes in Artificial Intelligence, Business Informatics, Computing Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Game and Media Technology. The department is developing Master's programmes in Data Science. High enrolment figures and good student ratings make it a very successful education.

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 which 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.

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 mentality of our people.  This lively and inspiring academic environment attracts Professors, Researchers and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the University and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international and wonderfully diverse community.

Aanvullende informatie

If you have any questions about this position, please contact Matthijs Vákár (Assistant Professor), via

Questions about the application procedure? Send an email to


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives and we attach great importance to diversity and gender balance. Applicants are encouraged to mention any personal circumstances that need to be taken into account, for example parental leave or military service. If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role, please respond via the “Apply” button.

Please enclose:

  • a one-page cover letter describing the reasons for your interest in the position;
  • a full academic curriculum vitae;
  • a copy of your MSc thesis (if available);
  • contact details of two or three references.

The applications must be written in English.

Suitable candidates will be invited for an interview. As part of the selection procedure, the candidate will be expected to give a short presentation about their Master's research or an outline of their proposed PhD research.

If this specific opportunity is not for you, but you know someone who may be interested, please forward the link to them.

Please note: Due to the current situation regarding the Corona virus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews is subject to change.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

Uiterlijk reageren op 8 juni 2020.