PhD student in Computing Science

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: 30 Sep 2021

Umeå University, the Department of Computing Science (, is offering a full-time employment as a PhD student in Computing Science, comprising four years of net study time. The Department of Computing Science is a dynamic environment with around 135 employees from more than 20 countries worldwide.

Project description

The position belongs to the project “A Practical Theory of Computation for Modern Neural Network Architectures” funded by the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP). The project is a collaboration between the research groups Foundations of Language Processing at Umeå University and Natural Language Processing at Linköping University. It is led by Frank Drewes in Umeå and Marco Kuhlmann in Linköping who have received funding for one PhD student each.

Neural networks are today the most important computational paradigm for AI, machine learning, and natural language processing. However, the formal study of their computational power has not been able to keep up with the upshot of new neural architectures, such as the Transformer. Also, existing theoretical results are of limited practical value, for example because they make idealising assumptions such as infinite precision or unlimited training time. We want to address these shortcomings and develop a theory of computation for modern neural network architectures that is of practical value for natural language processing. The project thus combines methods from theoretical computer science – especially the theory of computation – with knowledge in how modern neural network architectures work. Though the results will be general, the foremost application area to be considered within the project is natural language processing.


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.

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The graduate school within WASP is dedicated to providing the skills needed to analyze, develop, and contribute to the interdisciplinary area of artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and software. Through an ambitious program with research visits, partner universities, and visiting lecturers, the graduate school actively supports forming a strong multi-disciplinary and international professional network between PhD-students, researchers and industry.

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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 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.

Candidates are required to have very good knowledge in project-related subjects, which in particular includes the theory of computation. Fluency in written and spoken English is an indispensable requirement.

Important personal qualities are the ability to work both independently and in a team, creativity, and the willingness to actively pursue one’s own development as a competent researcher.

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 as soon as possible by agreement.


Applications must be submitted electronically using the e-recruitment system of Umeå University (use the Apply button on this page).

A complete application must contain the following documents:

  • a cover letter including a description of your research interests, your reasons to apply for the position, and your contact information
  • a curriculum vitae
  • 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
  • contact information for two persons willing to act as references
  • documentation and description of other relevant experiences or competences.

The application must be written in English or Swedish. 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 September 30, 2021.

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 Prof. Frank Drewes (

We look forward to receiving your application!

Umeå University strives to offer an environment where open dialogue between people with different backgrounds and perspectives lay the foundation for learning, creativity and development. We welcome people with different backgrounds and experiences to apply for the current employment.

We kindly decline offers of recruitment and advertising help.

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