Postdoctoral researcher in computational linguistics with a focus on grounding language in computer vision and robotics

Reference number PAR 2024/361

The University of Gothenburg tackles society’s challenges with diverse knowledge. 56 000 students and 6 600 employees make the university a large and inspiring place to work and study. Strong research and attractive study programmes attract researchers and students from around the world. With new knowledge and new perspectives, the University contributes to a better future.

The Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science  (FLoV) at the Faculty of Humanities has around 120 employees and provides education to around 350 full-time students. Many large national and international research projects are being conducted here. We educate philosophers, logicians, linguists, computational linguists or language technologists, theorists of science, historians of philosophy, philologists and teachers of philosophy. The department also provides doctoral education and development work in these areas. 

The Centre for Linguistic Theory and Studies in Probability (CLASP) at FLoV is funded by a ten-year grant from the Swedish Research Council (2015-2027). CLASP is engaged in research and advanced training in the application of probabilistic modelling and machine learning methods to central questions in linguistics and cognition-related research areas. CLASP also deals with issues within dialogue and linguistic interaction. For a description of CLASP, see https://gu-clasp.github.io/  

A prospective candidate will conduct their research at CLASP in the Swedish Research Council's funded research project "Beyond pixels and words: language technology generation and understanding of spatial language in interaction" (2023-01552). The project is led by Simon Dobnik and will start in September 2024. For a description of the project, see the website via Simon Dobnik | University of Gothenburg (gu.se). 

 

Subject area 

Computational linguistics 

 

Subject area description

The cognitive systems group is a research group within CLASP lead by Simon Dobnik, Professor of Computational Linguistics, which addresses core issues in computational linguistics and language technology from the perspective of the relationship of language to other modalities. It consists of members of CLASP working on (i) data models and machine learning of meaning representations for language, action and perception, (ii) semantic models of language, action and perception (computational semantics), (iii) representation learning in language models and inference, (iv) interpretation and generation of spatial descriptions and reference, (v) interactive learning with small data, (vi) data bias and privacy, and (vi) multimodal dialogue, robotics and related topics. 

A core question of the current research project is how to improve the latest technology for learning models of language and perception for interactive artificial agents. This involves not only recognizing patterns in visual data, but also exploring how the models can be used in a situated linguistic interaction. Processing spatial descriptions and referring expressions in dialogue, such as "bring me the red book on the table next to my bed," present many open challenges for computational modelling. There is a need for new dynamic models for data, language understanding and generation that involve the fusion of information from multiple modalities and from different learning situations and domains (for example, off-line from corpora via transfer learning); and new machine learning scenarios. It also involves the development of artificial agents that can enhance the acquisition of the missing knowledge by directly interacting with a human partner. 

 

Job assignments

The position allows the researcher to consolidate and further develop their scientific skills by conducting research in collaboration with researchers and doctoral students in the above-mentioned research group by connecting ideas from across the following research areas:

  • Computational semantics, 
  • Grounding language in action and perception, 
  • Creation and interpretation of spatial language, 
  • Image description generation, visual question answering, visual dialogue, 
  • Referring expression generation and understanding in situated dialogue, 
  • Situated agents/robots and generation and understanding of instructions, 
  • Machine learning with neural networks, 
  • Transferring models across multiple domains, 
  • Machine learning from small data, 
  • Combining top-down (expert-driven) and bottom-up and bottom-up (data-driven) models, 
  • Reasoning and inference including Bayesian inference, 
  • Model interpretation, testing and evaluation of undesirable societal biases, 
  • Crowd-sourcing for collection and evaluation of research data.  

Up to 20% of the position may include duties other than research, such as teaching, supervision of doctoral students and pedagogical development work.

The work must be carried out on site at the University of Gothenburg. The postdoctoral fellow is expected to participate actively in the research group and the subject area's activities, seminars, workshops, and conferences.

The purpose of the position is to give the employee an opportunity to consolidate and develop her/his scientific skills by conducting research in CLASP's core areas of research in cooperation with the research group.

 

Eligibility 

To be employed under the 'Agreement on Fixed-Term Employment as a Postdoctoral Fellow' (arbetsgivarverket.se), a doctoral degree or a foreign degree deemed equivalent to a doctoral degree is required. 

The subject area of the doctoral degree should have a relevant connection to the subject description above. This qualification requirement must be met no later than the time the employment decision is made. In order to be employed under this agreement, priority will be given to those who have completed a doctoral degree or a foreign degree that is deemed equivalent to a doctoral degree no more than three years ago. When calculating the framework period of three years, the starting point is the application deadline. If there are special reasons, a degree may have been obtained earlier. Special reasons are considered leave due to illness, parental leave, positions of trust in trade unions, service in defence, or other similar circumstances, as well as clinical duties or duties relevant to the management and administration of the subject area. 

The employment as a postdoc is described in more detail in the University of Gothenburg's Appointment Procedure for Teachers: Styrdokument | Göteborgs universitet (gu.se)  under "Personal-Handläggningsordning". 

 

Assessment 

The most important factor in the assessment of the applicants is their research expertise, where special emphasis will be placed on the applicant's doctoral thesis and other publications. Priority will be given to applicants whose overall merits strengthen the project. Emphasis is also placed on experience in teaching and supervision, documented good collaborative skills and good skills in planning and organising research and communicating one's own research. Documented experience of more than one of the tasks described above is particularly meritorious. 

The recruitment process may include an interview (possibly via video link) and obtaining references. 

General assessment criteria are described in the University of Gothenburg's Appointment Procedure for Teachers, see the link above. 

 

Employment 

Type of employment: Fixed-term employment, 2 years, with the possibility of a third year

Extent: 100% 

Location: Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, Gothenburg 

First day of employment: By agreement 

 

Contact information 

If you have any questions about the project, the subject, the content of the work or the workplace, you are welcome to contact the research project leader, Professor Simon Dobnik, +46(0) 31-786 6917, simon.dobnik@gu.se 

If you have questions about the application, the recruitment process and terms of employment, you are welcome to contact Human Resources Officer Cecilia Groglopo: cecilia.groglopo@gu.se, +46(0) 31-786 4570  

 

Unions 

Union representatives at the University of Gothenburg can be found here: https://www.gu.se/om-universitetet/jobba-hos-oss/hjalp-for-sokande 

 

How to apply 

In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to register an account in our online recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline. The selection of candidates is made on the basis of the qualifications registered in the application. Any documents that are not available in electronic format should be mailed to: HR officer, FLoV, Box 200, 405 30 Göteborg.

Please note that the following documents should be attached to the application (in pdf):

  1. Personal letter of 500 words maximum (approx. 1 page). The letter should consist of four paragraphs in the following order: a) a short presentation of yourself, b) a short presentation of your merits, c) a short account for why the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science and CLASP is of interest to you.
  2. PhD certificate
  3. A CV listing academic degrees, employments, publications, and other relevant merits.
  4. At most three scientific publications, and the applicant’s PhD thesis.

We welcome applications written in English, since a non-Swedish speaking person may be appointed as external expert in the recruitment process.

 

Applications must be received by: August 15, 2024. 

 

Information for International Applicants 

Choosing a career in a foreign country is a big step. Thus, to give you a general idea of what we and Gothenburg have to offer in terms of benefits and life in general for you and your family/spouse/partner please visit: 

https://www.gu.se/en/about-the-university/welcome-services 
https://www.movetogothenburg.com/ 

The University works actively to achieve a working environment with equal conditions, and values the qualities that diversity brings to its operations.

Salaries are set individually at the University.

In accordance with the National Archives of Sweden’s regulations, the University must archive application documents for two years after the appointment is filled. If you request that your documents are returned, they will be returned to you once the two years have passed. Otherwise, they will be destroyed.

In connection to this recruitment, we have already decided which recruitment channels we should use. We therefore decline further contact with vendors, recruitment and staffing companies.