PhD Candidate in Embedded Systems Design for Distributed Deep Learning

Amsterdam, Netherlands
€2,325 to €2,972 gross per month
07 Aug 2019
End of advertisement period
20 Sep 2019
Contract Type
Full Time

Closing date     20 September 2019
Level of education     Master's degree
Hours     38 hours per week
Salary indication     €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month

The Parallel Computing Systems (PCS) group at the Informatics Institute (IvI) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Leiden Embedded Research Center (LERC) at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) of Leiden University are looking for a joint PhD candidate in the area of embedded systems design for deep learning applications.

The PCS group, headed by Dr. A.D. Pimentel, performs research on the design, programming and run-time management of multi-core and multi-processor (embedded) computer systems. The modeling, analysis and optimization of the extra-functional aspects of these systems, such as performance, power/energy consumption but also the degree of productivity to design and program these systems, play a pivotal role in this work. The main mission of LERC, headed by Dr. T. Stefanov, is to provide highly innovative contributions to the system-level design of embedded and cyber-physical systems and software – conceptually (theory), methodologically (design methods and tools), and structurally (platforms/architectures). To this end, LERC investigates fundamental methods and model-based techniques for the specification, analysis, development, programming, verification, and implementation of Embedded (Cyber-Physical) Systems-on-Chip (SoC).

The aim is to work towards a joint doctorate degree from both the University of Amsterdam and Leiden University. This means that the PhD candidate will be jointly supervised by Dr. Pimentel and Dr. Stefanov and is expected to spend roughly half of his/her working time at either location (Amsterdam and Leiden).

Project description

Deep Learning (DL) algorithms are an extremely promising instrument in artificial intelligence, achieving very high performance in numerous recognition, identification, and classification tasks. Even though DL has gained significant importance, it is still very challenging to implement these algorithms on resource-constrained embedded devices, thereby preventing their pervasive adoption in a vast scope of new Internet of Things (IoT) applications and markets. Thus, a step forward is needed towards implementation of the on-line execution of DL algorithms (called inference) in a distributed manner on several resource-constrained embedded devices in order to enable a shift to the edge computing paradigm which is an integral part of the IoT concept. More specifically, when DL is moved at the edge of IoT, severe performance requirements must coexist with tight constraints in terms of power/energy consumption, available processing and memory resources on small embedded devices (sensor nodes, microcontrollers, small single-board computers like ODROID and Raspberry Pi, etc.), posing the need for a distributed and heterogeneous computing platform interconnecting several of these small embedded devices. Unfortunately, designing DL algorithms such that they can be executed on this kind of distributed platforms would require advanced skills and significant manual effort, also considering that DL algorithms are primarily designed to improve only precision, without considering the aforementioned limitations of the devices that will execute the inference and the communication costs due to data exchange among the interconnected devices. The research of the PhD candidate will therefore focus on methods and techniques for automated analysis and design of distributed DL algorithms when targeting efficient implementation of their inference tasks on the aforementioned type of distributed platforms.

The PhD candidate is expected to:

  • perform research on analysis, modeling, and optimization techniques for designing embedded and distributed DL algorithms;
  • complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • collaborate with other PCS and LERC researchers;
  • regularly present intermediate research results at international conferences and workshops, and publish them in proceedings and journals;
  • assist in relevant teaching activities at IvI and LIACS.


  • M.Sc. in computer science or computer engineering;
  • prior expertise in embedded systems design and AI/deep learning;
  • preferably some expertise in (distributed) computer architectures, and modelling and simulation;
  • fluency in oral and written English is required as well as good presentation skills;
  • strong analytical as well as programming skills (C/C++, Python, Shell scripting, etc.).

The candidate should be able to work in a research team.

Further information

Further information maybe obtained from:

Dr Andy D. Pimentel, Informatics Institute, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, 1098 XH, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)20 525 7578
You may also want to visit his personal website.

Dr Todor Stefanov, Leiden Embedded Research Center, Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science, Leiden University, Niels Bohrweg 1, 2333 CA Leiden, The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)71-527 5776
You may also want to visit his personal website.

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 PhD candidate will be formally appointed at the University of Amsterdam. The appointment will be on a temporary basis for a period of 4 years (initial appointment will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it can be extended for a total duration of 4 years) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. The PhD student is also expected to assist in teaching of undergraduates.

Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2,325 in the first year to €2,972 in the last year. The annual salary will be increased by 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 (Cao) of Dutch Universities is applicable.

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.

The Informatics Institute strives for a better gender balance in its staff. We therefore strongly encourage women to apply for this position.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your CV and cover letter by 20 September 2019. You can apply online by using the button below.

Applications should include, in a single PDF file:

  • letter of motivation;
  • curriculum vitae (experience recognizable in months);
  • BSc + MSc diploma with transcripts (courses + grades);
  • master’s thesis and other publications (or links referring to);
  • names and contact details of two references;
  • any other relevant material (publications, link to your GitHub repository, …).

The selection process will consist of multiple rounds, during which (selected) candidates may also be asked to complete a small (programming) challenge.