1 to 2 PhD student/s in Computing Science with focus on Interactive Systems that Reason Spatially

Updated: 13 days ago

Umeå University is one of Sweden’s largest higher education institutions with over 37,000 students and about 4,700 employees. The University offers a diversity of high-quality education and world-leading research in several fields. Notably, the groundbreaking discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool, which was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was made here. At Umeå University, everything is close. Our cohesive campuses make it easy to meet, work together and exchange knowledge, which promotes a dynamic and open culture.

The ongoing societal transformation and large green investments in northern Sweden create enormous opportunities and complex challenges. For Umeå University, conducting research about – and in the middle of – a society in transition is key. We also take pride in delivering education to enable regions to expand quickly and sustainably. In fact, the future is made here.

The Department of Computing Science is now looking for a Doctoral student in Computing Science with a focus on Interactive Systems that Reason Spatially

The department has been growing rapidly in recent years. An inclusive and participatory environment are key elements in our growth. The 60 doctoral students within the department are a diverse group from different nationalities, backgrounds and fields. We offer very good employment conditions, and administrative and technical support, among other benefits. See more information at:

Is this interesting for you? Welcome with your application before 13 May, 2024

Project description

Current AI technology surpasses humans in pattern recognition tasks, but it falls short on general world knowledge understanding, common sense reasoning, and the human capabilities of explaining the process followed to solve a problem. Our project goal is to design and develop interactive systems that reason spatially and which are centred in the human user (e.g. to expand their skills, instead of replacing them). This project will make contributions to an enriching user interaction with autonomous systems in a bidirectional way: (i) users’ interaction enhances the spatial reasoning by the autonomous system; and (ii) users’ spatial skills are improved by interaction with the system.

This 4-year PhD project is funded by the Wallenberg foundation, WASP program. You will work in at the Department of Computing Science under the supervision by Associate Professor Zoe Falomir. Her group conducts research in spatial reasoning, spatial cognition and cognitive human-computer interaction. We collaborate with several national and international research groups. We use principles and methods of Artificial Intelligence, Human-Computer Interaction, and Cognitive Science.

Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP) is Sweden’s largest individual research program ever, a major national initiative for strategically motivated basic research, education, and faculty recruitment. The program addresses research on artificial intelligence and autonomous systems acting in collaboration with humans, adapting to their environment through sensors, information, and knowledge, and forming intelligent systems-of-systems. The vision of WASP is excellent research and competence in artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and software for the benefit of Swedish industry. Read more: https://wasp-sweden.org/

The graduate school within WASP is dedicated to provide the skills needed to analyse, develop, and contribute to the interdisciplinary area of artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and software. Through an ambitious program including study trips together with other PhD students to USA/Asia to visit other research labs/industries, allowing research visits to foreign Universities, the graduate school actively supports forming a strong multi-disciplinary and international professional network between PhD-students, researchers, and industry. Read more: https://wasp-sweden.org/graduate-school

Admission requirements

The general admission requirements for doctoral studies are a second- cycle level degree, or completed course requirements of at least 240 ECTS credits, of which at least 60 ECTS credits are at second-cycle level, or have an equivalent education from abroad, or equivalent qualifications.

To fulfil the specific entry requirements for doctoral studies in computing science, the applicant is required to have completed at least 90 ECTS credits in computing science. Applicants who otherwise have acquired skills that are deemed equivalent are also eligible.

Documented expertise in at least 2 of the following topics of interest is a requirement:

  • Interactive systems (i.e videogames, virtual reality environments, cognitive robotics, etc.) and/or interactive interfaces (i.e. EEG sensors, eye tracking, virtual reality glasses etc.)
  • Automated reasoning
  • Machine learning

Candidates are expected to have good knowledge in Artificial Intelligence and good programming skills in some of the following: Python, PyTorch library, OpenAI-Gym, Prolog, ProbLog, Answer Set programming, C++,  C#, etc. Experience in platforms (such as Unity, Unreal, Godot or similar) for programming such interactive interfaces. Knowledge in cognitive science will be considered an extra merit.

Important personal qualities are, besides creativity and critical thinking, good skills in problem solving, interest in interdisciplinary research, the ability to work both independently and in a group, and experience in scientific interaction with researchers from other disciplines and in other countries.

We expect an ability to work both independently and in a team. The working language in the group (and at the department) will be English.

About the position

The position provides you with the opportunity to pursue PhD studies in Computing Science for four years, with the goal of achieving the degree of Doctor in Computing Science. While the position is mainly devoted to PhD studies (at least 80% of the time), it may include up to 20% department service (usually teaching). If so, the total time for the position is extended accordingly, resulting in a maximum of five years.

The procedure for recruitment for the position is in accordance with the Higher Education Ordinance (chapter 12, 2§) and the decision regarding the position cannot be appealed.

The expected starting date is 2024-10-01, or as otherwise agreed.


Applications must be submitted electronically using the e-recruitment system of Umeå University.

A complete application should contain the following documents:

  • A cover letter including a description of your research interests, expertise, and your reasons to apply for the position, and your contact information
  • A curriculum vitae, including names of 2 academic referees who may be contacted.
  • Reprints / copies of completed BSc and/or MSc theses and other relevant publications, if any
  • Copies of degree certificates, including documentation of completed academic courses and obtained grades
  • Website portfolio, if any.
  • Documentation and description of other relevant experiences or competences.

Attached documents must be in pdf format. Applications must be submitted electronically using the e-recruitment system of Umeå University, and be received no later than 2024-05-13

The Department of Computing Science values gender diversity, and therefore particularly encourages women and those outside the gender binary to apply for the position.

For additional information, please contact associate professor Zoe Falomir ([email protected] ).

We look forward to receiving your application!

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