PhD Fellowship in Reinforcement Learning

Expiring today

Trondheim, Norway
14 Jan 2020
End of advertisement period
27 Jan 2020
Contract Type
Full Time

This is NTNU

At NTNU, creating knowledge for a better world is the vision that unites our 7 000 employees and 40 000 students.

We are looking for dedicated employees to join us.

About the position

The Norwegian Open AI Lab (see and Data and Artificial Intelligence group currently has a vacancy for a 3-year (or 4 with optional academic duties) in the field of Reinforcement Learning. The position is part of the Centre for Research-Based Innovation on exposed aquaculture operations (

About the project

EXPOSED is a Centre for Research based Innovation (SFI) and is funded by the Research Council of Norway's Division for Innovation. The main objective of EXPOSED is to enhance the capability of the business sector to innovate by focusing on long‐term research through creating close alliances between research‐intensive enterprises and prominent research groups. The EXPOSED Centre brings together global salmon farmers, key service and technology providers, and leading research groups to develop knowledge and technology for robust, safe and efficient fish farming at exposed locations. At present, there is a strong innovation drive in the aquaculture industry, and extensive investments are done. The centre and its partners are valued contributors to this development, through their role as partners in R&D projects, in scientific and industrial fora, and in the public debate. In the second half of the its lifetime, the centre aims to increase its focus on turning knowledge into innovations for the industry partners and aquaculture industry.

Within this project the Department of Computer Science at NTNU, the Department of Mathematics and Cybernetics at SINTEF Digital and SINTEF Ocean have established a collaboration to investigate the use of reinforcement learning for contact-free crane operations from service vessels. Contact-free refers to operations where the service vessel is not moored to the infrastructure – in this case the fish pen. Starting from a simulator/digital twin, the task is to develop agents that learn policies for contact-free movement of cranes with and without loads.

The position reports to Prof John Krogstie, Head of the Computer Science Department.

Main duties and responsibilities

  • Develop autonomous agents for contact-free operations
  • Work in close collaboration with researchers in SFI EXPOSED
  • Test and evaluate the solution in simulated and real environments
  • Disseminate results

Qualification requirements

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is completion of a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in Artificial Intelligence and/or Machine Learning or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of . Applicants with no letter grades from previous studies must have an equally good academic foundation. Applicants who are unable to meet these criteria may be considered only if they can document that they are particularly suitable candidates for education leading to a PhD degree.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, postdoctor and research assistant

The candidate should have the following qualifications:

  • Strong background in one or more of the following areas: artificial intelligence, computer science or machine learning
  • Excellent programming skills - in one or more of the following languages: Python, Matlab, Java, C++
  • To efficiently communicate with external project partners, excellent written and oral Norwegian language skills are required
  • Ability to work independently as well as collaboratively

The following qualifications will be considered as an advantage:

  • Experience with reinforcement learning and robotics
  • Background in one or more of the following areas: system identification, dynamical modelling and control theory
  • Research-oriented master thesis within the area

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

Personal characteristics

  • Curious
  • Team player
  • Goal focused
  • Persistent

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, as well as motivation, in terms of the qualification requirements specified in the advertisement

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 479 600 before tax per year. From the salary, 2 % is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years (or 4 with optional academic duties). Appointment to a PhD position requires admission to the PhD programme in Computer Science.

As a PhD candidate, you undertake to participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period. A condition of appointment is that you are in fact qualified for admission to the PhD programme within three months.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criterias in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

General information

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. Under the Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova), information about the applicant may be made public even if the applicant has requested not to have their name entered on the list of applicants.

The national labour force must reflect the composition of the population to the greatest possible extent, NTNU wants to increase the proportion of women in its scientific posts. Women are encouraged to apply. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life ( Having a population of 200 000, Trondheim is a small city by international standards with low crime rates and little pollution. It also has easy access to a beautiful countryside with mountains and a dramatic coastline.

Questions about the position can be directed to Kerstin Bach, +4773 59 74 10,  or Helge Langseth, +47 73 59 64 88,

About the application:

Publications and other academic works that the applicant would like to be considered in the evaluation must accompany the application. Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify the individual applicant's contribution to joint works, the applicant must include a brief description of his or her contribution.

The application must contain:

  • Curriculum vitae (CV) with information about the candidate’s prior training, exams, and work experience
  • Certified copies of transcripts and diplomas
  • Applicants from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement or a similar describes in detail the study and grading system and the rights for further studies associated with the obtained degree
  • Research statement (max. 3 pages) including
    • A short presentation of the motivation for a PhD study
    • How the applicant sees his/her background suitable
    • The applicant’s view of research challenges within the area of the PhD position
    • How AI or machine learning methods can address the stated problem
    • How the competence of the applicant can contribute to solving these challenges
  • Names and contact information of at least 2 reference persons
  • A copy of the master thesis (in PDF), or, for those who are near to completion of their MSc, an extended abstract combined with a statement of how and when the applicant plans to complete the thesis (1 page, delivery of master thesis no later than June 30th 2020)

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI): ).

Applicants invited for interview must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number 2020/570 when applying.

Application deadline: 27.01.2020

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Computer Science 

We are the leading academic IT environment in Norway, and offer a wide range of theoretical and applied IT programmes of study at all levels. Our subject areas include hardware, algorithms, visual computing, AI, databases, software engineering, information systems, learning technology, HCI, CSCW, IT operations and applied data processing. The Department has groups in both Trondheim and Gjøvik. The Department of Computer Science is one of seven departments in the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering .

Deadline 27th January 2020
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Trondheim

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