2 PhD positions in Artificial Intelligence and Operations Research

Updated: 4 months ago
Deadline: 13 Dec 2018

Faculty of Science – Informatics Institute
Publication date
9 October 2018
Level of education
Salary indication
€2,266 to €2,897 gross per month
Closing date
13 December 2018
38 hours per week
Vacancy number

The University of Amsterdam (UvA) invites applications for two PhD positions for four years. The positions are part of AIRLab, the Artificial Intelligence for Retail Lab , a joint research lab between Ahold Delhaize and the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence.

Project description

Artificial intelligence, and in particular machine learning, has become a driving force behind many breakthroughs. Ahold Delhaize, a multinational retail organization, and the Innovation Center for AI (ICAI), which is headquartered at the University of Amsterdam, have started a joint research lab in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to join the best of academic and industrial research. The lab focuses on fundamental research in artificial intelligence for retail. The lab will host 17 PhD positions and research assistants. We are currently looking for two PhD candidates to join AIRLab. As a PhD candidate you will perform cutting edge research in AIRLab at the interface of AI and Operations Research. These positions have a special focus on supply chain management. The following PhD positions are available for you to choose from, each with its own research agenda:

PhD position 1: Smarter Supply Chain Orders by Integrating Forecasting Information in Automated Decision Making

  • Grocery retail stores are supplied from central warehouses. To do so efficiently, oftentimes a custom Automated Store Replenishment Orders system is applied to determine the quantities and timing of replenishing each product. Order policies must deal with a complex trade-off over main factors such as high demand fulfilment, minimum inventory levels, larger batch sizes for efficient operations, and total costs. Hence, this is a challenging multi-goal or multi-objective optimization problem, both from a scientific and applied perspective.
  • In this project you will start to address this problem drawing on current state-of-the-art methods, but also from recently proposed deep reinforcement learning (DRL) approaches, in which you will try to automatically learn to deal with a variety of demand situations. You will also explore and develop different loss functions. In summary, you will develop deep reinforcement learning methods to accurately estimate costs in replenishment subject to multiple optimization objectives.

PhD position 2: Adjusting the Promotion Forecast During a Promotion’s Runtime

  • Forecasting (FC) customer demand is crucial for retailers to successfully fulfill the expected demand by having products available. However, such forecasting is characterized by specific challenges. For example, the inclusion of promotions is hard. Promotions are not static events: they generate new information themselves that can be used immediately to update the forecast whilst running (i.e., a rolling FC), and novel external information might become available during the promotion. How do we optimize such rolling FC by creating feedback loops? Another example is the inclusion of events in the proximity of physical retail stores. How can we detect and integrate such events in the forecasts?
  • Your project will design algorithms to optimize promotion forecasts while they are running by creating novel and creative feedback loops and study how to embed forecasts within the supply chain context when making decisions.

Tasks for both positions:

  • conduct AI research with a special focus on supply chain management;
  • publish in top tier conferences and journals in relevant areas;
  • provide teaching assistance (10%);
  • complete a PhD thesis.

  • You have an MSc degree in computer science or artificial intelligence, with experience in operations research. Or you have an MSc degree in operations research with experience in computer science or artificial intelligence;
  • you have a demonstrable background in machine learning and ideally deep learning;
  • your mathematical background is solid and you have excellent software engineering skills, English language skills, social skills, and team spirit;
  • you appreciate an international and highly interdisciplinary environment in which academic-industrial collaboration is central.

Further information

Your position is primarily based at the Informatics Institute, University of Amsterdam. You will spend 50% of your time in the R&D environments of Ahold Delhaize.

For more information, please contact:


The appointment will be full-time (38 hours a week) for a period of four years (initial employment is 18 months). Periodic evaluations will be held after 9 and 14 months, and upon positive evaluation, the appointment will be extended to a total of 48 months. The appointment must lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan that includes attendance of courses, summer and/or winter schools, and national and international meetings will be drafted for the PhD candidate. The PhD candidate is also expected to assist in teaching of undergraduate students.

The salary is in accordance with the university regulations for academic personnel. The salary will range from €2,266 (first year) up to a maximum of €2,897 (last year) before tax per month (scale P) based on a full-time appointment. There are also secondary benefits, such as 8% holiday allowance per year and the end of year allowance of 8.3%. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities is applicable.

Among other things, we offer:

  • competitive pay and excellent benefits;
  • extremely friendly working environment;
  • high-level of interaction;
  • international environment (10+ nationalities in the group);
  • access to high-end computing facilities (cluster with 4,000+ cores);
  • one of the best AI ecosystems on the planet;
  • new building located near the city center (10 minutes by bicycle) of one of Europe’s most beautiful and lively cities.

Since Amsterdam is a very international city where almost everybody speaks and understands English, candidates need not be afraid of the language barrier.

Job application

The UvA is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We value a spirit of enquiry and endurance, provide the space to keep asking questions and cherish a diverse atmosphere of curiosity and creativity.

You may only submit your application online using the link below.

We will accept applications until the positions are filled.

To process your application immediately, please quote the vacancy number: 18-604.

The committee does not guarantee that late or incomplete applications will be considered.

In the research statement (see below) you should clearly describe your research vision in relation to the topics that we described, as well as a clear statement which would be your direction of research.

In your application you should clearly indicate which of the two positions it is that you are applying for.

You should also include the following information, in separate PDF files (not zipped), using surname, initials and a self-evident word as file names, e.g. , Smith J CV:

  • a curriculum vitae (including a url allowing download of pdf of MSc. thesis - if relevant);
  • a letter of motivation (at most 1 page) explaining why you are interested in this position;
  • a research statement (at most 2 pages), explaining your research interests and how you think they can be related to the topics mentioned in the job description above;
  • a list of all university courses taken, including a transcript of grades;
  • the name and contact details (including email address) of three referees who can provide details about your profile (one of whom should be the main supervisor of your Master thesis).


No agencies please

Published by  University of Amsterdam

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