Research Associate in Expainable Machine Learning

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Heriot-Watt University
Currie, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Application Deadline
£32817 - 40322

About Heriot-Watt University

Heriot-Watt University has five campuses: three in the UK (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Orkney), one in Dubai and one in Malaysia. The University offers a highly distinctive range of degree programmes in the specialist areas of science, engineering, design, business and languages.

With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, leading-edge research, which has made it one of the top UK universities for business and industry. We connect with industry at every level and develop programmes to match their needs – so employers get work-ready industry-fit graduates.

Heriot-Watt is also Scotland's most international university, boasting the largest international student cohort.

We have an established set of values that help us to nurture innovation and leadership, and show our commitment to continuous improvement and development in all our activities.

For full details on our University please view our Careers at Heriot-Watt

About our Team

The School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences has an international research reputation and close connection with the professional, financial and industrial world of science, mathematics and technology. Our research ranges from fundamental Mathematical sciences through to Computer Science applications, all of which are supported by strong external funding. The latest Research Excellence Framework, aimed at evaluating the research quality and impact of UK universities, named Heriot-Watt in the top 25% of UK universities, with 82% of our research ranked as world-leading or internationally excellent. Heriot-Watt ranked 9th university in the UK and 1st in Scotland for research impact.

Robotics has been identified by our University and the UK government as a key area of research with an immense potential to positively impact our lives. Funded in 2013 the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, a joint institute with Edinburgh University has established itself as one of the largest and most visible research centres in the UK, building on a strong tradition in robotics in each university. Since its creation, we have secured £8M of investment in equipment (EPSRC), £7.5M of investment in a Centre for Doctoral training (EPSRC), enabling us to recruit over 15 Phd Students per year, £25M of investment (UK Government) for new buildings to collocate the centre’s activities and very recently the £30M ORCA Robotics Hub (EPSRC) in Robotics and AI for Offshore Asset integrity management ( There has therefore never been a better time to join us and be part of a truly unique endeavour in the UK and probably in the world. Details on the activities of the centre can be found at http://www.edinburgh-robotics....

Detailed Description

The ORCA Hub's activities are designed to lead advancement in key robotics and AI technologies that will create a step change in current practice of automated inspection, repair and maintenance. A multidisciplinary research team has assembled between Heriot Watt (Lead) and its partner universities (Edinburgh, Imperial College, Liverpool, Oxford) to tackle a wide variety of challenges ranging from planning and control of multiple robots in unstructured and hazardous environments, through to the development of state of the art Human Robot Interfaces incorporating advanced natural language and multimodal interfaces.

Of particular interest for this research associate post is the development of inspectable, explainable AI.

Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) are common in many areas, such as human‐robot interaction (HRI), natural language processing, and planning tasks, however, their use in high-risk industrial applications is limited by: 1. their lack of interpretability and explainability; 2. their unquantified robustness; and 3. their requirements of large amounts of training data.

Key duties and responsibilities

This project will use newly developed combinations of advanced classical robust signal processing and mathematical techniques to provide explainable machine learning alternatives to common DNN tasks. This approach will make modelling assumptions explicit, while using a fraction of the variables (typically tens of millions) used with DNNs. This can greatly increase training efficiency, aid explainability, and improve robustness.We are advertising for the position of Research Associates in AI targeting explanation and semantic analysis of legacy data and NLP applications using classical (non-DNN techniques). The RA will work in a team with 3 other researchers to develop the technology required.The researcher will be supported by an experienced professional team for project management, outreach, commercialization and industry liaison. You will also receive complementary training in a range of areas (robot ethics, outreach, commercialization, etc…) and will be offered professional development opportunities to maximize your career development.

Education, qualifications and experience

Candidates will have a 2.1/first degree or PhD in computer science, electrical engineering, applied mathematics, physics, or a related area. Experience of Bayesian Machine Learning techniques would be an advantage. You will be working as part of a large team of researchers and we expect excellent communication and teamwork ability from any candidates to these positions.

Exact salary within scale 7 can be negotiated based on experience and excellence criteria.

How To Apply

Applications can be submitted up to midnight (UK time) on 30 June 2020

At Heriot-Watt University we understand that being diverse makes us better which is why we support a culture of respect and equal opportunity, and value diversity at the heart of what we do. We want to increase the diversity of our workplace to underpin a dynamic and creative environment.

We welcome and will consider flexible working patterns e.g. part-time working and job share options.

Use our total rewards calculator: to see the value of benefits provided by Heriot-Watt University.

Applications will be fully considered until the positions are filled.

The successful candidates should start March 2020 at the latest.


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