Explanatory Data Analysis group

Vacancy: PhD student or postdoctoral researcher Human-Guided Data Science

The Faculty of Science, Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science is looking for a

PhD student or postdoctoral researcher Human-Guided Data Science (1.0 fte)

Vacancy number 19-205

Project description

The goal of the project, titled Human-Guided Data Science by Interactive Model Selection, is to develop theory and methods that allow domain experts to guide the data mining process. This is motivated by the observation that although there is a strong trend towards automated, data-driven modelling, it is not possible to fully automate all data science tasks. In particular, experts often have relevant knowledge that is not captured in the data. Hence, there is a strong need for human-guided data science that integrates knowledge-driven and data-driven modelling.

To this end, the researcher will develop theory and algorithms for interactive model selection that allows to exploit domain knowledge through interactive learning. For this we will build on both the minimum description length (MDL) principle and interactive data mining approaches. The resulting methods will be evaluated on real-world case studies in the health care and aviation domains, to demonstrate the potential to interactively discover novel insights from data.

There is funding for either a PhD student (4 years) or a postdoctoral researcher (3 years); the position will depend on the experience of the successful candidate. The project is funded by a NWO TOP grant and will be embedded in the Explanatory Data Analysis group at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science. The group develops algorithms and theory that enable domain experts to explain data by finding interpretable patterns and models. More information about the group can be found at http://eda.liacs.nl/

Key responsibilities

  • Conduct original and novel research in the field of human-guided data science;
  • Publish scientific articles in international journals and conferences;
  • Write a dissertation (PhD student only).

Selection criteria

  • A MSc or PhD degree in Computer Science, Statistics, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, or a related field;
  • Good knowledge of and interest in data mining, machine learning, and statistics;
  • Knowledge of the minimum description length principle and/or interactive data mining is a plus;
  • Creative thinking and highly motivated to do foundational data mining research;
  • Good programming skills;
  • Excellent proficiency in English;
  • Excellent grades and good reference letters.

Research at our faculty

The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. Our people are driven by curiosity to expand fundamental knowledge and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline. The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is diverse, ranging from mathematics, artificial intelligence, computer science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 1,300 staff and almost 4,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together. For more information, see http://www.science.leidenuniv.nl/.

The Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) is the Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science Institute in the Faculty of Science of Leiden University. We offer courses at the Bachelor and Master of Science level in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, ICT in Business, Media Technology, and Bioinformatics. According to an independent research visitation, we are one of the foremost computer science departments of the Netherlands. We strive for excellence in a caring institute, where excellence, fun, and diversity go hand in hand. We offer a clear and inviting career path to young and talented scientists with the ambition to grow. For more information about LIACS, see http://www.cs.leiden.edu

Terms and conditions

When applying for the position of PhD student: We offer a full-time 1 year term position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary range from € 2.222,- to €2.840,- gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.

When applying for the position of postdoctoral researcher: We offer a full-time 2-year position, which may be extended to 3 years. Salary ranges from € 2640.- to € 4166.- gross per month for a full-time position as postdoc (pay scale 10 in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

Work-life balance

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups. We wish to reflect society both in age, gender and culture, as we believe that this would optimize the dynamics in our organization. Therefore, we support and understand the need for a work/life/family balance and consequent varying working hours and places. In the Netherlands, a maternity allowance is standard for 16 weeks. Child care is available at and near the Bio Science Park.


Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Enquiries can be made to Matthijs van Leeuwen, e-mail: m.van.leeuwen@liacs.leidenuniv.nl.


To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to Matthijs van Leeuwen: m.van.leeuwen@liacs.leidenuniv.nl. Please ensure that you attach the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • Curriculum vitae (CV);
  • Motivation letter;
  • MSc degree and grade list;
  • (Draft of) MSc or PhD thesis;
  • One to three references.

Only applications received before 17 May 2019 can be considered.

Original version at universiteitleiden.nl