PhD candidate in Artificial Intelligence and Game Playing

Maastricht (NL)
06 Apr 2018
End of advertisement period
30 Apr 2018
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

PhD candidate in Artificial Intelligence and Game Playing

A top tier PhD candidate is sought for a project involving the computational study of traditional games. The position is part of the world leading game AI research being undertaken at Maastricht University’s Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering (DKE).

Job description

The Digital Ludeme Project, a five-year research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC), will entail a computational study of the world's traditional games throughout recorded human history. It aims to improve our knowledge of ancient games using modern AI techniques, to chart their evolution and their role in the spread of mathematical knowledge across cultures, to establish a new field of research called Digital Archaeoludology. 

This project will involve developing a software system and related databases for modelling the full range of known traditional games, providing a new public platform for game AI research. The PhD thesis will enhance this work, and its exact topic will be decided in consultation with the successful candidate based on their background, skills and interests. Relevant topics might include: Machine Learning for General Game Playing (GGP); Automated Strategy Learning, Transfer and Explanation; Game Distance/Similarity Metrics; The (Phylo)Genetics of Games; GGP on the GPU; etc.


Applicants should have a highly regarded Master’s degree or equivalent (already completed or almost completed) in artificial/computational intelligence, machine learning, general game playing, data mining, computational phylogenetics, data mining, or some related field, and must have excellent Java programming skills. Good communication skills are important, as is a demonstrated ability to present and publish high quality research. 

Conditions of employment

The position is offered for four years starting 1 September 2018 (first year + three years after receiveing a positive evaluation) with yearly evaluations. It will be located on-site at Maastricht, The Netherlands, at one of the world’s top new universities known for its international and multidisciplinary focus.

The salary and conditions of employment will be as set out in the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) of Dutch Universities ( for a full-time contract of 38 hours/week at the PhD candidate salary scale (€2,222 to €2,840/gross per month) plus 8% holiday loading and an 8.3% year-end allowance. Non-Dutch applicants may be eligible for a favourable tax treatment (30% rule). All tuition fees will be covered. 


Maastricht University

Established in 1976, Maastricht University (UM) is the most international university in the Netherlands and renowned for its innovative, student-centered problem-based learning system. With approximately 16.300 students and 4.300 employees, Um offers a wide choice of bachelor’s, master’s and PhD programmes, all of which are designed to integrate research and education. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools linked to the university’s six faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Humanities and Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.


Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering (DKE)
Founded in 1992 as part of the Faculty of Humanities and Sciences, today DKE broadly covers Data Science and Knowledge Engineering in research and teaching. DKE comprises three internationally respected research groups, having their focus on “Robotics, Agents and Interaction”, “Networks and Strategic Optimization”, and “Biomathematics and Bioinformatics”. Education programmes offered by DKE are a BSc in Data Science & Knowledge Engineering, a MSc in Artificial Intelligence, and a MSc in Data Science for Decision Making. For further information, see

Additional information

Please submit applications by 7 May 2018 and refer to vacancy number AT2018.91. via as a single PDF document including:

  • Letter of motivation including short summaries of some potential thesis topics (1 page);
  • CV with a summary of highlights and courses studied with grades (2 pages);
  • Names and contact details of at least two academic referees;
  • Please also provide an electronic copy of your Masters thesis (if completed).

Shortlisted applicants may be invited for an interview at Maastricht University in May, which may be conducted by Skype. Start date: 1 September 2018. For more information, please contact Dr Cameron Browne (

Maastricht University is committed to nurturing an inclusive culture and a welcoming atmosphere. This inclusiveness strategy has resulted in a very diverse representation of nationalities and cultures. We strongly believe that diversity (including, but not limited to nationality, age and gender) of the staff and student population will increase the quality of UM education & research. Fostering diversity and inclusivity creates an academic community where individual talents thrive, and values and differences are cherished. We strongly encourage you to apply if you are qualified for this position.