December 1, 2020 /

Two PhD positions on Models of Misunderstanding

The IMS invites applications for two PhD positions in the Emmy Noether research group on Computational Models of Misunderstanding.

The independent research group on
  "Computational Models of Misunderstanding for Complex Instructional Text"
invites applications for two PhD positions. The positions are funded through a grant in the Emmy Noether Programme of the German Research Foundation (DFG---Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), which funds projects similar to an ERC Starting Grant or NSF CAREER Award. The group is headed by Michael Roth and located at the Institute for Natural Language Processing ("IMS") at the University of Stuttgart, Germany [1].

The project is concernedwith the systematic analysis and computational modelling of text passages that can lead to misunderstandings. A substantial amount of previous work has studied misunderstandings in dialogue, but suitable resources for written language are scarce because misunderstandings cannot be observed directly from a text. Since readers and writers typically do not interact, it is important for authors to ensure that texts leave no room for misinterpretation. Otherwise, for example, medical instructions may be followed incorrectly, and route directions may not guide navigators to their desired destination. The goal of this project is to create the resources and methods necessary to prevent such outcomes.
The announced positions are part of a long-term research effort, which started in 2019. Over the course of this year, we published three papers in CL/NLP conferences [2,3,4], which form the basis of ongoing and future work in the project. The successful applicants for the two new posts will focus on investigating lingustic causes of potential misunderstandings (e.g., specific cases of implicit or underspecified language), improving classification models by incorporating additional information (e.g., commonsense knowldge or multi-modal context), and testing such models in downstream tasks (e.g., ambiguity detection or machine translation). Both positions will be available for up to three years, starting in early/mid 2021. Salary will be based on the German TV-L E13 scale 75% (approx. 3,000 EUR gross per month).
Successful applicants will have a background in linguistics, machine learning, and/or computational linguistics, with a particular interest in semantics and pragmatics. Programming skills and the ability to work in a group are taken for granted. The candidate should be able to work and communicate in English (no proficiency of German is required). Applications should include a brief motivation letter including research interests, a CV, a list of publications (if applicable), and contact information of one or two references. Applications should be sent as a single PDF file to Michael Roth by email. Applications received by 3 Jan 2021 will receive full consideration, but the positions will remain open until filled.
Candidates who identify as female, trans* and/or non-binary are particularly encouraged to apply. Feel free to contact Michael Roth (head of group) or Talita Anthonio (PhD student) for any question regarding the group or positions.
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