PhD Candidate in Energy Labels for Digital Services

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: ;

The use of non-renewable resources is causing global-scale environmental problems, which threaten the stability of our planet earth. The safe operating space to maintain liveable conditions on earth has been formulated in the planetary boundaries, of which several are already overstepped. Many of these problems are caused by human interruptions of biogeochemical cycles of the biogenic elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur leading to the creation of waste.

Zero Waste is a part of the university-wide theme of Sustainable Prosperity presented in the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) 2021-2026 strategic plan. With Zero Waste, the UvA Faculty of Science (FNWI) aims to contribute to alleviating these environmental problems resulting from the current linear use of resources by (re-)designing processes, materials, and products to keep materials in closed cycles while meeting our needs.

Zero Waste will strongly connect to education at the Faculty of Science, especially to the new BSc programme Science and Design that focusses on four interdisciplinary themes: 1) high-tech designer materials, 2) renewable energy and resources, 3) engineering life and health, and 4) information science, modelling and simulation. Six Science & Design Doctorates will form the start of the Zero Waste research theme. They will work together in physical proximity and intensive interaction to strengthen the common aspects of the projects, while researching a broad range of topics. Physically, research and demonstration activities and part of the research of the theme can be carried out in SustainaLab , the new Matrix ONE building at Amsterdam Science Park .

Scientific discovery, product development, data science and artificial intelligence, online shopping, and entertainment rely increasingly on digital services. Digital services come with a significant, rapidly-increasing energy cost, raising sustainability concerns. Even more concerning, worldwide estimates project the ICT sector to reach 21% of the global energy consumption by 2030.

Users interacting with devices — mobile phones, tablets, or laptops — trigger entire digital chains, combining multiple communicating computing layers and data transfers: from the device itself, through the edge, to the datacenter. Each layer has its own computing infrastructure. At each layer, decisions are made about how, where and when applications are running and/or data are transferred. These decisions have a significant impact on the user-perceived quality-of-service (QoS), but also on the energy consumption – per layer, and for the entire digital chain. In this complex environment, even though the energy footprint of different devices along the chain might be known, the actual energy consumed by the application is unknown, because it depends on infrastructure choices, and on user QoS requirements, and on mapping decisions made on the edge and in the datacenter. In fact, the energy efficiency, i.e., the amount of energy consumed to perform the actual task at hand, is largely unknown for most digital chains.

We argue that the first step to reduce waste in computing is to quantify the energy efficiency of end-to-end digital chains. This project focuses on designing an integrated framework (i.e., the methods, metrics, and tools) for this quantification effort. Specifically, we aim to define a reference architecture of digital chains, use it to define an analytical digital-chain energy-efficiency model that exposes the factors that impact energy efficiency along the chain, and support it with a high-level functional simulator to assess different operational scenarios and parameters that affect the energy efficiency of digital chains.

What are you going to do

You are expected to perform high quality research in the field of computer science and/or engineering.

Specifically, we foresee the following tasks :

  • select (and implementing/tuning) several candidate case-studies (of digital chains) to be used as real-life examples. 
  • define the tools and methods for accurate performance and energy measurement for different digital services along the chain, from device to datacenter; validate these methods and tools on the selected case-studies;
  • define a reference architecture of digital chains; validate the applicability of the reference architecture through on the selected case-studies;
  • implement basic models (using the reference architecture) to reason about the performance and energy of the entire chains of digital services; validating these models on the case-studies;
  • design and implement methods and tools to monitor the energy consumption of digital chains for digital services;
  • publish the results of the research in international venues (conferences and/or journals);
  • combine all the research work in a PhD thesis.  
  • Work independently but in close collaboration with other members of the team, including the industrial partners. 

Take part in scientific and social activities with other members of the ZeroWaste lab, the research departments and the faculty.

Contribute to dissemination activities about the project in national and international venues.

Actively contribute to the teaching of the new Science for Design Bachelor program and relevant programs.

 What do we require
  • A MSc degree (or equivalent) in computer science or engineering, preferably with a strong focus on computer systems.
  • Basic expertise in empirical computer-science/computer-engineering research (e.g., designing and conducting real-life experiments). Affinity for experimental research is a must.
  • Experience with programming in C/C++ is a bonus.
  • Experience with performance modeling and/or energy consumption analysis is a bonus.   
  • Very good communication skills in English, including reading, writing, and speaking.
  • Ability and willingness to conduct research in a multidisciplinary and diverse team.

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 four 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 <aster students. 

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,434 to €3,111 (scale P) 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 .


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

  • Ana-Lucia Varbanescu , Associate Professor

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 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.

Job application

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 by 18 October 2021. You can apply online by using the link below. 

Applications in .pdf should include:

  • a motivation letter and CV, including a list of publications.

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

We will invite potential candidates for interviews after 18 October 2021.

no agencies please


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