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PhD candidate, Modeling of Complex, Distributed Cyber-Physical Computer Systems

Vacancy number
Function type
PhD positions
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
06 October 2020
Closing date
22 November 2020

27 more days to apply

The Faculty of Science and Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) is looking for a

PhD candidate, Modeling of Complex, Distributed Cyber-Physical Computer Systems 

Project description
The PhD position is embedded in a larger project, called “DSE2.0: Towards Optimal Design of Complex, Distributed Cyber Physical Systems”, funded by NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences together with TNO-ESI, and is a collaboration between Leiden University, University of Amsterdam, and ASML Veldhoven (NL). ASML is the world’s largest supplier of photolithography systems for the semiconductor industry.

The project is part of a national MasCot partnership programme. The goal of this programme is to investigate, develop and deliver the next generation of engineering methodologies that help manage the increasing complexity of high-tech systems. Achieving this goal helps to improve the quality and reduce the development costs of future generations of cyber-physical systems, thereby providing the Dutch industry a competitive advantage. The MasCot programme constitutes in total 11 PhD students from six universities in four projects, executed in close collaboration with ASML, Philips Health Care, and Canon Production Printing. The MasCot projects offer a unique opportunity to learn about different industrial cases, exemplifying the increasing complexity of high-tech systems, and take part in the design and implementation of the potential solutions for these problems. The research work will be done both at the university and on-site at the partner companies, thereby providing a broader perspective.

Key responsibilities
Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) comprise one of the largest information-technology sectors worldwide which is a driver for innovation in other crucial industrial sectors such as health industries, industrial automation and robotics, avionics and space. Nowadays, the embedded computing infrastructure of complex CPS is based on heterogeneous multi-core or many-core systems, which are distributed, and connected via complex networks. Manufacturing companies of distributed Cyber-Physical Systems (dCPS), such as lithography scanner machines, industrial printers, and interventional X-ray machines, are facing serious challenges with respect to designing the next generation of their products. Designers of such systems need quick answers to so-called “what-if” questions with respect to possible design decisions/choices and their consequences on system performance, cost, etc. This calls for efficient and scalable system-level design space exploration (DSE) methods for dCPS that integrate appropriate application workload and system architectures models, simulation and optimization techniques, as well as supporting tools to facilitate the exploration of a wide range of design decisions. However, such DSE technology for complex dCPS does currently not exist.

Are you interested in helping us with studying how to perform efficient and effective DSE for complex, distributed cyber-physical systems? This would entail performing research on:

  1. Modeling the software workload using workload models that can capture software process activities with a granularity that will allow to explore potential workload balancing techniques, degrees of parallelism, etc.;
  2. Modeling the platform architecture considering potential distributed architectures to which the workload can be mapped to (e.g., deployment of ‘fat’ versus ‘thin’ compute nodes, exploitation of heterogeneous and possibly domain-specific system architectures, etc.;
  3. Modeling the mapping of software processes to platform resources;
  4. The exploration of different system configurations to adapt the systems to specific workloads and platform architectures.

As a PhD student, you will be involved in and contribute to all four of the above research areas, but with a particular focus on the first one including research on automated workload model inference.

Selection criteria
The successful applicant should be a very motivated university graduate who is open to industrial cooperation and is a top performer among his/her peers, has an excellent education and/or research track record proven by relevant experience, publications, etc. You are expected to conduct original competitive research and proof-of-concept development, publishing the results in relevant conferences and/or journals, and participating in teaching duties.

Applicants are expected to:

  • Have a Master degree in computer science or computer engineering;
  • Have some prior expertise in one or more of the following fields: computer systems architecture, modelling and simulation, performance analysis, and system optimization;
  • Be excellent in oral and written English with good presentation skills;
  • Have strong analytical and problem-solving skills;
  • Have excellent programming and debugging skills in C/C++, Java, and/or Python;
  • Be open to industrial cooperation and comfortable with working at ASML in Veldhoven (approx. 130 km from Leiden) for two days per week on average;
  • Have the ability to work in an international research team.

Our organisation
The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future. The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences.

The research activities are organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2.200 staff and almost 4,200 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together. For more information, see the website of the Faculty of Science.

The Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) is the Computer Science Institute in the Faculty of Science of Leiden University. According to our recent research visitation, we are one of the foremost computer science departments of The Netherlands. We strive for excellence in a caring institute, where excellence, fun, and diversity go hand in hand. We offer a clear and inviting career path to young and talented scientists with the ambition to grow. For more information, see the website of LIACS.

The PhD research will be carried out in the Leiden Embedded Research Center (LERC) at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science, Leiden University. LERC is an expert group and an internationally recognized leader in advanced research in Embedded (Real-time) Systems and Software. Such systems/software are application domain specific information processing systems that are tightly coupled to the physical environment, thus they are also called "Cyber-Physical Systems". LERC covers two related topics in this rapidly evolving domain: 1) Embedded Systems theory and applications; 2) Embedded Systems Design methods, techniques, CAD tools and tool flows. The research at LERC deals with abstract application models, platform and architecture models, and mapping models, at various levels of abstraction, for performance analysis, exploration and design, conceptually and practically, down to real platform and system implementations.

Terms and conditions 
Initially, the successful applicant will be appointed for one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility, the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary range from € 2.395,-  to € 3.061,-  gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Enquiries about the PhD position can be made to Todor Stefanov, Associate Professor, telephone +31-(0)71-527-5776, email t.p.stefanov@liacs.leidenuniv.nl

To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to Todor Stefanov at t.p.stefanov@liacs.leidenuniv.nl. Please ensure that you attach the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • A Curriculum Vitae (CV);
  • A Letter of Motivation;
  • A MSc diploma with transcripts (courses + grades);
  • A (link to a draft of) Master’s thesis, and other publications;
  • Two to three references (who agreed to support the applicant).

Only applications received no later than 22 November, 2020 can be considered.

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