[Elsnet-list] PhD position on Automatic analysis of conversations in human-robot interactions

K.P.Truong at utwente.nl K.P.Truong at utwente.nl
Thu Oct 17 10:43:25 CEST 2013

PhD position on Automatic analysis of conversations in human-robot interactions


The Human Media Interaction group at the University of Twente is
looking for a PhD candidate who will automatically analyse conversations based
on the speakers' nonverbal vocal behaviors. The aims are to automatically
determine the quality of social interaction between the speakers (both in
dialogues and multi-party conversations) and the speakers' affective states.
Qualitative aspects of social interaction include, amongst others, levels of
engagement, cooperation, enjoyableness, valence and rapport.

The work will be carried out within the contexts of two European projects
involving robots, namely TERESA and SQUIRREL. In the TERESA project, a
telepresence robot is controlled by a human controller who can have
robot-mediated conversations with other humans in the vicinity of the robot. In
order to know whether a specific speaker attitude is caused by the robot's or
the human controller's behavior, an assessment of the interaction is needed. The
challenges are to give a continuous assessment of the quality of interaction
under natural conditions, and to find out what nonverbal vocal cues can be used
to detect qualitative aspects of social interaction. In the SQUIRREL project,
children will be interacting with a robot that aims to encourage and help them
tidy up and put objects back in order. In order to design effective robot
behaviors that encourage and help children tidy up, an assessment of the
interaction among the children and the robot is needed: is the interaction fun,
are the children engaged in the task, is one of the children left out in the

The work will cover a range of various tasks:

* The candidate will collect speech data by recording social interactions
between adult humans (French) and among children (German) and robots. (S)he will
develop and manage audio(visual) databases of these recorded interactions.

* The candidate will perform analyses on the nonverbal vocal behavior of the
recorded interactions. The candidate will investigate what types of qualitative
and affective aspects of social interaction are relevant in this context and
annotations will be made. (S)he will identify relevant nonverbal vocal cues that
correlate with qualitative and affective aspects of social interaction.

* Based on these annotations, the candidate will develop algorithms to
automatically assess qualitative and affective aspects of social interaction,
both in human adult and children speech.

* The candidate is expected to present his/her work in major (international)
conferences and workshops, and to publish in relevant journals.

Your profile
* The candidate should have fluent command of English as a written
and spoken language. Since the candidate will be working with Dutch, French and
German data, knowledge of these languages is preferable.

* The candidate has an MSc degree in Computer Science or equivalent (a degree
with a technical background, e.g., Artificial Intelligence, Computational

* The candidate is interested in the research fields of speech analysis, social
signal processing, and machine learning.

* The candidate has programming skills in one of the following languages (or
equivalents): Python, Perl, or Matlab.

The expected starting date is around December 2013. Further information about
the PhD position can be given by Prof. Dr. Vanessa Evers (email:
v.evers at utwente.nl) and Dr. Khiet Truong (k.p.truong at utwente.nl).

Our offer
We offer a full-time PhD position in a dynamic and international
environment. The expected starting date is 1 December 2013. The duration of the
contract is four years. The gross salary will range from € 2.083,00 in the first
year to € 2.664,00 per month in the fourth year. Additionally, the University of
Twente provides excellent facilities for professional and personal development.
In addition, we offer a holiday allowance (amounts to 8%) and an end-of-year
bonus of 8.3% and a number of additional benefits. The labor agreements are in
accordance with the CAO-NU for Dutch universities.

The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and
technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New
technology which drives change, innovation and progress in society. The
University of Twente is the only campus university in the Netherlands; divided
over six faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. The
University of Twente has a strong focus on personal development and talented
researchers are given scope for carrying out pioneering research.

The faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS)
comprises three disciplines that shape Information and Communication Technology.
ICT is more than communication. In almost every product we use mathematics,
electronics and computer technology and ICT now contributes to all of societies'
activities. The faculty works together intensively with industrial partners and
researchers in the Netherlands and abroad and conducts extensive research for
external commissioning parties and funders. The research which enjoys a high
profile both at home and internationally, has been accommodated in the
multidisciplinary research institutes MESA+, CTIT and MIRA.

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