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AISB opportunities Bulletin Item

PhD student position on Forensic Bayesian networks, Groningen & Utrecht , THE NETHERLANDS

Job description

These two PhD positions are part of the project "Designing and Understanding Forensic Bayesian 
Networks with Arguments and Scenarios" that is funded by the Netherlands Institute for Scientific 
Research in the Forensic Science program ( The project is a cooperation
of the University of Groningen (Department of Artificial Intelligence) and Utrecht University 
(Department of Information and Computing Sciences) supported by partners from forensic legal 

In order to prevent miscarriages of justice such as the infamous Lucia de Berk case, the 
communication between forensic statisticians, crime investigators and lawyers about statistical 
evidence should be improved. It is well-known that lawyers and other non-experts in statistics 
often make serious mistakes when confronted with statistical evidence, while there is ample 
evidence that lawyers tend to think in terms of arguments and scenarios. Therefore the project 
aims to develop methods for supporting argumentation- and narrative-based communication about 
statistical evidence. Both the design and the understanding of models of evidence will be 

This study will be carried out in two subprojects, addressing, respectively, argumentation and 
narrative techniques. Both subprojects take the statistical formalism of Bayesian Networks as 
point of departure. In the subproject performed at Utrecht University, argumentation techniques 
for the design and understanding of models of evidence will be developed. In the subproject 
performed at the University of Groningen, the design and understanding of models of evidence will 
be investigated using narrative techniques.

The project is the first that addresses the communicative gap between forensic statisticians, 
crime investigators and lawyers, by combining Bayesian Networks with models of scenario 
construction and argumentation.

On request, we can send you the full plan for the project. In that case, and for other questions, 
please contact Dr B. Verheij.


A successful candidate has a Master's degree in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, 
Mathematics, Philosophy, or a related field, and has an interest in formal research in 
argumentation, narrative techniques and Bayesian Networks, and their application in forensic 

Conditions of employment

The University of Groningen and Utrecht University offers a salary of 
2,042 gross per month in the first year up to a maximum of  2,612 gross per month in the final 
year. The appointment is for a period of four years, which should be finished with a PhD 
examination. The full time appointment is temporary for 1.5 years with the perspective of 
prolongation for another 2.5 years. After the first year, there will be an evaluation of the 
feasibility of successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years. You and your 
supervisors will make up a plan for additional education and supervising that is specific to your needs.

How to apply

Send a cover letter (with professional goals and a statement of interest), a curriculum vitae and 
two letters of recommendation (PDF format) to the job application portal before January 15th, 2011 
although applications received after the deadline may be considered. If you have a preference for 
one of the two subprojects, this can be indicated in your application.

Starting date: as soon as possible.


Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences The two subprojects will each be performed by one PhD 
student in close collaboration. One PhD student will be based at the University of Groningen 
(Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Artificial Intelligence, Multi-Agent 
Systems group), the other at the Utrecht University (Faculty of Science, Department of Information 
and Computing Sciences, Intelligent Systems group). Both groups have a world-class reputation, in 
particular in the fields of AI and law and of Bayesian Networks. Daily supervision will be 
performed by Dr B. Verheij, Prof. H. Prakken and Dr S. Renooij. The PhD student based in Groningen 
will participate in the Graduate School of Science of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

Additional information

Dr B. Verheij

More information about the project

More information about employer University of Groningen on AcademicTransfer.

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