PhD Position in Action and Intention Understanding from Videos

University of Amsterdam Informatics Institute


PhD position action and intention understanding from videos

Publication date 8 March 2021

Closing date 15 April 2021

Level of education Master's degree

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €2,395 to €3,061 gross per month

Vacancy number 21-148

Are you interested in performing high-end research in artificial intelligence, computer vision and deep learning? And are you eager to perform this research at two European research institutes? We are looking for a PhD candidate to investigate the problem of automatically understanding actions and their underlying intentions from videos.

Within video-based computer vision, things are moving fast. We are quickly gaining the ability recognize, what, when, and where actions occur in long videos. One question remains open: why do actions occur? The ability to look beyond action labels will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of what is occurring in videos and enable long-term future anticipation. Addressing this open question requires novel contributions in both computer vision and deep learning. Notable keys include using hierarchical knowledge about actions [1] and reasoning about futures in videos [2].

A unique selling point of this fully-funded position is that it is sponsored by the ELLIS unit Amsterdam. ELLIS (European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems) is a European initiative to foster top research in Artificial Intelligence. As such, this position involves supervision from two researchers; dr. Pascal Mettes at the University of Amsterdam and prof. Rita Cucchiara from the University of Modena, Italy. The position itself will be at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), but the PhD is a joint collaboration and one year in total will be spent at the University of Modena to get the most out of the joint project.

[1] T. Long, P. Mettes, H.T. Shen, and C.G.M. Snoek. "Searching for Actions on the Hyperbole." CVPR. 2020.

[2] A. Monti, A. Bertugli, S. Calderara, and R. Cucchiara. "Dag-net: Double attentive graph neural network for trajectory forecasting." arXiv. 2020.

What are you going to do?

You are expected to:

  • invent and implement novel pipelines that enable video-based intention understanding;
  • actively collaborate with researchers from two international institutes;
  • spend at least one year at the University of Modena;
  • pursue and complete a PhD thesis within the appointed duration of four years;
  • present research results at international conferences and journals;
  • assist in teaching activities such as lab assistance and student supervision.

What do we require?

  • A Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Mathematics, or a closely related field;
  • a strong scientific and mathematical background in deep learning, with an emphasis on deep learning for videos and geometric deep learning;
  • good programming skills, experience with Python and deep learning toolkits are preferred;
  • a collaborative mindset;
  • a good academic record and eagerness to tackle core scientific problems;
  • fluency in English, both written and spoken.

Our offer

We offer a temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and Master students.

The salary will be €2,395 to €3,061 (scale P) gross per month, based on a fulltime contract (38 hours a week). This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

  • Dr Pascal Mettes,  Assistant Professor
    T: +31 (0)20 525 8735

About the Faculty of Science and the Informatics Institute

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The mission of the Informatics Institute is to perform curiosity-driven and use-inspired fundamental research in Computer Science. The main research themes are Artificial Intelligence, Computational Science and Systems and Network Engineering. Our research involves complex information systems at large, with a focus on collaborative, data driven, computational and intelligent systems, all with a strong interactive component.

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

The Informatics Institute strives for a better gender balance in its staff. We therefore strongly encourage women to apply for this position.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 15 April 2021. You may apply online by using the link below.

Applications in .pdf should include:

  • a motivation letter explaining the reasons for applying;
  • a CV, including a list of publications if applicable;
  • a link to your Master’s thesis;
  • a complete record of your Bachelor and Master courses, including grades and explanation of grading system;
  • the names and contact addresses of two academic references (please do not include reference letters).

All items should be grouped into a single PDF file.

Please mention the months (not just years) in your CV when referring to your education and work experience.

We will invite potential candidates for interviews end of April/begin of May.

Apply now

No agencies please


In your application, please refer to


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