PhD Position, Network Information Dynamics in Criminal Networks

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Oct 14, 2019
End of advertisement period
Oct 31, 2019
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Closing date: 31 October 2019
Level of education: Master's degree
Hours: 38 hours per week
Salary indication: €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month

We are seeking a PhD candidate for a computational network science position to work on an exciting research project in an interdisciplinary team. You will focus on the use of mathematical and computational methods to understand social and financial processes in crime and their interplay.

There is a growing consensus that the complexities underlying crimes and criminal organisations cannot be unravelled by traditional methods alone. A shift in research paradigm to complex adaptive systems and network thinking is therefore imperative to move this field forward. This type of expertise in the crime field is still limited, however. To build this expertise we take up the challenge of computational modelling of criminal networks and value chains. These systems are a complex interplay between social networks, trust, opportunity, and financial activities. A system’s approach that encompasses the complexity of these pathways can support analysts and investigators in effectively tackling undermining criminal activities in a strategic manner.

Particularly novel to this project is that multiple rich intelligence datasets (anonymised) will be combined in order to create large and multiplex networks (social and financial) surrounding criminal activities. This quantitative data will be combined with qualitative knowledge from domain experts. The data will be conceptualised as a snapshot of a dynamical system which is adaptive and decentralised. The goal is to model the process of formation and evolution of the network and value chains therein, as well as to understand the function of the emergent network topology as an infrastructure for information, money, and commodities.

What are you going to do?

You will focus on analysing flow dynamics in (multiplex) networks. You will use information theory and network theory to identify the optimal information positions as well as driver positions (causal influence). The flows of information, goods, money that flow through the system lead to emerging patterns of complex criminal network organisation and behaviour. When does the network reach a tipping point if typical information is transferred through the network? How is money transferred through the network and is this different from the flow of information? As a starting point for inspiration please see the referenced article*.

In the present context a good information position of an individual is to possess information about (or be correlated with) a large number of other individuals, possess information which stays relevant for a long period of time, or both. In addition to the flow of information or causality we are also interested in other flow dynamics, such as money, commodities, or trust.

* Quax, Rick, Andrea Apolloni, and Peter MA Sloot. ; The diminishing role of hubs in dynamical processes on complex networks.' Journal of The Royal Society Interface 10.88 (2013): 20130568.

What do we require?

The ideal candidate for this position:

  • has a M.Sc. in Applied Mathematics, Complex Systems Science, Computational Science, Statistical Physics or related disciplines, with a considerable mathematical analysis component and with experience in programming for high-performance applications, knowing programming language(s) such as Python and Neo4J;
  • has an affinity towards and good knowledge of network science (graph theory). Preferably has experience in computational modelling of networks, network processes, network flow dynamics, and/or calculating various network topological features;
  • enjoys interacting with scientists and domain experts from different disciplines and tackling an interdisciplinary problem;
  • is trained in computational modelling and simulation techniques, such as Monte Carlo sampling;
  • is familiar with basic concepts from Shannon’s information theory (entropy, mutual information) and has a good command of probability theory and statistics;
  • preferably has strong knowledge of the Dutch language in both reading and speech since most data and metadata is in Dutch.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). The initial appointment will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years. You will get a customised Training and Supervision Plan, that will be evaluated every year. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,325 to €2,972 (scale P) gross per month, based on 38 hours a week. These amounts are exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus. A favorable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits? Then find out more about working at the Faculty of Science.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation?

Please contact:

  • Dr Rick Quax, Assistant professor

About the Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 6,500, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Computational Science Lab (CSL) at the Informatics Institute tries to understand how information is processed in natural settings through the study of a large variety of dynamic multi-scale complex systems. The project is linked to the 'Networks of Crime and Terrorism' at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) of the University of Amsterdam. You will join an interdisciplinary team, consisting of researchers from the Computational Science Lab (CSL), the Regional Information and Expertise Center (RIEC) in Amsterdam, the police, and the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD).

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your CV and cover letter by 31 October 2019. You may apply online by using the button below.

Applications should include a motivation letter and CV, including a list of publications.

No agencies please