[Elsnet-list] PhD position on Automatic analysis of affective and social behaviors in human-robot interaction

K.P.Truong at utwente.nl K.P.Truong at utwente.nl
Tue Jan 21 11:30:04 CET 2014

PhD position on Automatic analysis of affective and social behaviors in human-robot


Job specification
The Human Media Interaction group at the University of Twente is looking for a PhD
candidate who will automatically analyse social interactions based on the speakers'
non-verbal behaviors in speech (paralinguistic information). 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 using vocal cues.
Qualitative aspects of social interaction include, amongst others, levels of engagement,
cooperation, enjoyableness, arousal, 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 non-verbal 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 excluded in the interaction?

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 non-verbal 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 non-verbal 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 in, e.g., Artificial Intelligence, Computational Linguistics).

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

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

Please send your application with your CV and motivation letter through the application
link before February 7, 2014. Please also include the names, email addresses, phone
numbers, and information about past working relationships of two people that we could
contact for a recommendation.
Further information about the PhD position can be given by Dr. Khiet Truong
(k.p.truong at utwente.nl) and Prof. Dr. Vanessa Evers (email: v.evers at utwente.nl).
Our offer
We offer a full-time PhD position in a dynamic and international environment. 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

The Organisation
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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