PhD Student: Interactions to mitigate human biases (EWI2020-08)

Updated: 4 months ago

PhD Student: Interactions to mitigate human biases

Department/faculty: Faculty Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Level: University Graduate
Working hours: 36-40 hours weekly
Contract: 4 years
Salary: 2325 - 2972 euros monthly (full-time basis)

Faculty Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science

The Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) is known worldwide for its high academic quality and the societal relevance of its research programmes. Offering an international working environment, the faculty has more than 1100 employees (including about 500 PhD students) and more than 3000 bachelor’s and master’s students. Together they work on a broad range of technical innovations in the fields of electrical sustainable energy, microelectronics, intelligent systems, software technology, and applied mathematics.

The Software Technology (ST) Department is one of the leading Dutch departments in research and academic education in computer science, employing over 150 people. The ST Department is responsible for a large part of the curriculum of the bachelor’s and master’s programmes in Computer Science as well as the master’s programme Embedded Systems. The inspiration for its research topics is largely derived from technical ICT problems in industry and society related to large-scale distributed processing, embedded systems, programming productivity, and web-based information analysis.

The ST Web Information Systems group (WIS, concentrates in its research on engineering and science of the Web. The research specifically considers the role of Web data in the engineering of Web-based information systems. The section is an internationally leading research group in Web-based systems, with WIS researchers and students striving to advance the state of the art in relevant disciplines like Web science, information retrieval, data science, Web engineering, Web data management, croudsourcing and analytics. WIS members are actively involved in Delft Data Science (DDS).

Job description

Eleven PhD positions are offered within the framework of NL4XAI: Interactive Natural Language Technology for Explainable Artificial Intelligence, a project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 860621.

NL4XAI is a European Training Network (ETN) project, which will train 11 creative, entrepreneurial and innovative early-stage researchers (ESRs), who will face the challenge of making Artificial Intelligence (AI) self-explanatory and thus contribute to translating knowledge into products and services for economic and social benefit, with the support of Explainable AI (XAI) systems.

The focus of NL4XAI is in the automatic generation of interactive explanations in natural language, just as humans naturally do, and as a complement to visualization tools. As a result, ESRs are expected to leverage the usage of AI models and techniques even by non-expert users. The NL4XAI consortium is made up of 18 partners and beneficiaries from 6 different European countries (France, Malta, Poland, Spain, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom).  Each ESR will work in an individual research project in a different host institution and will participate in academic and inter-sectoral secondments at the premises of other NL4XAI’s members.


We are looking for an outstanding, motivated and team-spirited candidate (who has completed an accredited Masters degree) to carry out a PhD within the NL4XAI ETN and who will get unique international and inter-sectoral training from prominent European researchers (from both academy and industry).

This candidate will develop new interaction approaches for recommender systems with the aim to mitigate cognitive biases (e.g., confirmation bias, availability bias, attention heuristic, and backfire effect), which lead to deviation from optimal choices. This will be done through mixed-initiative (automated and human) “conversational” interfaces extending the concept of faceted search while aiding understanding why certain content (even if it is surprising) is being recommended. The interaction will be designed in a way that meaningfully compensates for cognitive bias.

Theoretical contributions will be validated in three use cases for recommender systems:

  • news;

  • social media; and

  • educational search

  • She/he will develop new theory and tools for interactions that mitigate human bias:

  • New interaction approaches that take into account user needs, values, and goals.

  • Improve explainability of recommender systems by creating a fundamental link between algorithmic approaches and interaction approaches.

  • Develop new control mechanisms suitable for individual and situational characteristics.

  • Develop standards for user interfaces and tools for recommender systems.

  • Conditions of employment

    TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

    As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

    Please visit for more information.

    Information and application

    For information about this vacancy, you can contact Dr. Nava Tintarev, Assistant Professor, email: , tel: +31 (0)15- 2784816.

    For information about the selection procedure, please contact Dr. Karin Reijenga, HR Advisor, email: .

    To apply please fill in the applicationform at: .

    Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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