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Type: PhD Student
Name (ID): Two PhD positions in deep learning for natural language understanding and summarisation (OP-20180419-103727)
Supervised by: James HENDERSON


The Idiap Research Institute seeks qualified candidates for two PhD student position in the field of natural language understanding, developing deep learning methods for textual entailment and opinion summarisation.

The research will be conducted in the framework of the Swiss NSF funded project Learning Representations of Abstraction for Opinion Summarisation. One of the successful candidates will investigate modelling abstraction relationships between texts (textual entailment), and the other will investigate summarising large collections of opinions (opinion summarisation). Opinion summarisation must abstract away from the details of individual opinions to find consensus statements which are entailed by a significant proportion of opinions.

This project will model these natural language understanding tasks through fundamental advances in representation learning and deep learning architectures. The work will start from Dr. Henderson's work on modelling abstraction in deep learning architectures, where learned vectors represent entailment rather than the usual similarity. Successes in the unsupervised learning of word vectors for entailment will be extended to deep learning architectures for the compositional semantics of texts. Methods for finding the intersection of information in vectors will be extended to clustering texts by their shared content and generating abstract summaries.

The ideal PhD candidate should hold a Master degree in computer science, computational linguistics or related fields. She or he should have a background in machine learning, optimisation, or natural language processing. The applicant should also have strong programming skills.

The successful PhD candidates will join the Natural Language Understanding group at Idiap, under the supervision of Dr. James Henderson. They will also become doctoral students at EPFL ( conditional on parallel application to, and acceptance by, the EPFL Doctoral School ( Appointment for the PhD position is for a maximum of 4 years, provided successful progress, and should lead to a dissertation. Annual gross salary ranges from 47,000 Swiss Francs (first year) to 50,000 Swiss Francs (last year). Starting date is to be negotiated, within 2018. All queries related to the advertised position can be sent to Dr. James Henderson (

About Idiap:

Idiap is an independent, not-for-profit, research institute recognized and funded by the Swiss Federal Government, the State of Valais, and the City of Martigny.

Idiap offers competitive salaries and conditions at all levels in a young, high-quality, dynamic, and multicultural environment. Idiap is an equal opportunity employer and is actively involved in the "Advancement of Women in Science" European initiative. The Institute seeks to maintain a principle of open competition (on the basis of merit) to appoint the best candidate, provides equal opportunity for all candidates, and equally encourage both genders to apply.

Idiap is located in the town of Martigny in Valais, a scenic region in the south of Switzerland, surrounded by the highest mountains of Europe, and offering exceptional quality of life, exciting recreational activities, including hiking, climbing and skiing, as well as varied cultural activities. It is within close proximity to Lausanne and Geneva. Although Idiap is located in the French part of Switzerland, English is the official working language. Free French lessons are also provided on a complimentary basis.

For frequently asked questions (FAQs) about living in Switzerland, please go to

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