Having been recently
awarded an ERC Starting grant, I will be hiring several PhD students
and postdocs in the next few years. The currently active calls are
I am seeking two PhD
students to work on reinforcement learning theory starting from October
2021. These are fully funded full-time research positions involving no mandatory
teaching duties or coursework, with an expected length of 4 years (3
years + 1 year of optional extension that is typically required for a
good thesis). The successful candidates will work under my direct
supervision at the AI and ML research group at UPF, with the
possibility to collaborate with other researchers in the group and more
broadly at UPF.
The research project broadly considers topics in reinforcement learning
theory, where "theory" is to be understood from the perspective of
computer science and statistics.
Some typical goals of theoretical work are designing learning
algorithms and proving formal guarantees about their performance, or
characterizing the hardness of learning problems. The present project
aims to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges posed by
large-scale reinforcement learning by identifying and exploiting
structural properties of Markov decision processes that make
large-scale learning statistically and computationally feasible. The
project is a natural continuation of my recent research on
reinforcement learning, so glancing at my recent papers
should give an idea of the nature of the work that you would be involved in.
Ideal candidates should have a strong background in mathematics in that
they should be able to formalize problems and reason rigorously in a
mathematical framework. Some familiarity with machine learning and
reinforcement learning is expected and knowledge of theory in these
domains is a big advantage, but all of these are less important than
having a good affinity for mathematics. It's important to note that
formal training in math is not required, but, to put it somewhat
bluntly, you are not going to have a great time if you haven't ever
enjoyed proving a theorem. Good communication skills in both written
and spoken English are also important. Coding skills are not essential,
but some background in computer science or other engineering disciplines is
Candidates should send the following material to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org
with the subject line [PhD application - YOUR LAST NAME]:
- An up-to-date CV.
- Transcripts from previous studies.
- Contact details of at least two references.
- A motivation letter explaining your research
interests. (Hint: It is a good idea to explain how your interests fit
into the theme of this project and my research in general.)
- A sample of your technical writing. (E.g., BSc. or
MSc. thesis, a preprint, or a published paper.)
- Any other documents you feel are relevant for your
are also some formal requirements that are required for enrolling in
the PhD program at the department. Having these ready is not necessary
at the time of application, but they should be available by the
- MSc. degree in Mathematics, Computer Science,
Electrical Engineering, Physics, or any related discipline.
- English language certificate (e.g., TOEFL).
The deadline for application is February
. I expect to be able to sort through the applications and start interviewing shortlisted candidates by mid-March.
Please let me know ASAP in case you have already applied to the ELLIS PhD program—
I have recently been appointed as an ELLIS Scholar and will be considering applications as an advisor from this program as well.
About the environment: Universitat Pompeu Fabra
is a public university
in Barcelona, Spain. It is frequently listed as one of the best
universities in the country and the best young universities in the
world, and is often praised for its excellent research culture and
international appeal. The AI and ML group
is part of the Department of
Information and Communication Technologies
, which is located in the pleasant Poble Nou district of Barcelona. We also maintain strong ties with the Statistics group
at the Department of Economics and Business
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at the address email@example.com
in case you have any questions.