Section Information Systems (IS)

PhD student "WiBAF"

Open 4-year PhD position @ Web Engineering Group, TU/e

We offer a 4-year full-time PhD research position in the WiBAF project (Within-Browser Adaptation Framework) situated on the crossroads of the Adaptive Hypermedia, Data Mining and User Modeling areas. The project is funded by the Data Science research center of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), the Netherlands. The research will be conducted at the Information Systems Group, Department of Computer Science.

Research Project and Task Description

Personalized information systems will undergo dramatic changes in the near future, caused in part by rising privacy concerns (and legislation) and in part by the need to distribute the computation involved in generating recommendations and performing adaptation.

In Web-based information systems data mining techniques are applied to model user intent, preferences or current context and thus facilitate data-driven personalization. Such data-driven user modeling has been heavily used already in recommender systems that employ content-based and collaborative filtering, and in search engines with personalized or context-aware ranking of organic search results or ad placement. In the area of personalization and adaptation of content, interaction and navigation, with applications in e.g. e-learning and e-culture, either hand-crafted adaptation rules or semantically rich databases have been used as the basis for deciding how to perform personalization.

The main objective for the PhD student in WiBAF project is to investigate how to bring these two currently distinct and to a large extent isolated approaches to personalization, i.e. purely hand-crafted and purely data-driven, together to perform within-site or even within-page adaptation based on both the analysis of user behavior and background knowledge of a certain domain.

One of the concrete targets is defining, studying and implementing a complete framework including a generic language for expressing adaptation and for generating client-side code that performs this within-browser adaptation, based on local client-side user model and global adaptation knowledge available at the server-side.

The framework should enable meta-adaptation which continuously adapts (updates) the adaptation process as user behavior changes. This makes use of research into the topics of explore-exploit trade-off in adaptive information systems like recommenders, context-awareness and recurrent concept drift in data mining.

It is expected that the PhD candidate will be involved in the complete R&D cycles including theory, framework and techniques development; implementation of the software prototypes; and experimentation with real use cases that are facilitated by the industrial collaborator - Digital Innovations Lab of the Web analytics company Adversitement B.V.


We are looking for highly motivated applicants with a Master degree in Computer Science or other related disciplines. (Candidates expecting to graduate by August 2013 are also eligible to apply.) You are expected to have good knowledge and at least some experience in one or more of the following areas:

  • Adaptive hypermedia, personalization and user modeling,
  • Data mining/machine learning/pattern recognition,
  • Recommender systems and/or (personalized) information retrieval,
  • Web technology

Successful candidates are expected to posses

  • Good analytical and software development skills,
  • Good command of spoken and written English,
  • Good communication skills and willingness to collaborate with other researchers and developers having diverse computer science background,
  • Experience with writing research papers and technical reports is a plus.

Settings and Conditions of Employment

This is a fixed term 4-year full-time fully funded PhD research position with a formal evaluation after the first year.

The PhD candidate will be guided by prof. dr. Paul De Bra (http://wwwis.win.tue.nl/~debra/) and dr. Mykola Pechenizkiy (http://www.win.tue.nl/~mpechen/).

You will also collaborate with other researchers of the Information Systems group working on related projects, e.g. STW CAPA project (http://www.win.tue.nl/~mpechen/projects/capa/), participate in the Dutch national research school SIKS: School for Information and Knowledge Systems (http://www.siks.nl/) and get an opportunity to go for a visiting research/do an internship at R&D labs abroad.

Digital Innovations Lab of the Dutch company Adversitement B.V. (http://www.adversitement.nl/) is teaming up with TU/e to contribute to the development of the foundations and generic technology for on-site within browser or within page adaptation. adaptation. PhD student is expected to spend one day a week collaborating with their researchers and developers, particularly with dr. David Smits (nl.linkedin.com/pub/david-smits/6/287/768).

The conditions of employment are according to Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities. The gross salary is € 2062 during the first year, increasing to € 2638 in the fourth year.

How to Apply

Applications including:

  • Motivation letter explaining your interest in the proposed research field;
  • Curriculum Vitae;
  • Copies of diplomas (MSc or equivalent) and other relevant certificates (like MOOC courses);
  • A complete list of attended courses and corresponding grades;
  • A copy or a link to your master thesis;
  • Some evidence of your proficiency in English;
  • Names and contact details of two references willing to provide recommendations;

should be submitted electronically at https://www.academictransfer.com/employer/TUE/vacancy/18628/apply/. Applications without included motivation letter are not likely to be considered. Selected candidates will be invited for an interview on Skype and/or on site.

The deadline for submitting applications is August 25th, 2013. However, the screening process will start by the end of June 2013 and continue until the position is filled. Therefore, it is advisable to apply asap. Candidates must be available to start working in this position at the earliest possible date, but no later than December 1st, 2013.

For more information about the project please send inquiries to wibaf.tue@gmail.com