20 grants available for full-time doctoral studies (deadline: Feb. 15, 2015)

Deadline: Sun, 15.02.2015, this call is closed


20 grants available for full-time doctoral studies (deadline: Feb. 15, 2015)

The Helsinki Doctoral Education Network in Information and Communications Technology (HICT) is a collaborative doctoral education network hosted jointly by Aalto University and the University of Helsinki, the two leading universities within this area in Finland. The network involves at present 55 professors and over 200 doctoral students, and the participating units graduate altogether more than 40 new doctors each year. The activities of HICT are structured along six research area specific tracks:

  • Algorithms and machine learning

  • Creative technologies

  • Life science informatics

  • Networks, networked systems and services

  • Software and service engineering and systems

  • User centered information technology

The quality of research and education in both HICT universities is world-class, but the education is still practically free as there are no tuition fees in the Finnish university system. Helsinki has been ranked as the World's Most Livable City (Monocle, 2011), and is the capital city of Finland, which is in the top 10 of the most highly educated nations in the world (OECD, 2013), and has been selected as the world’s best country to live in (Newsweek, 2010).

The participating units of HICT have currently 20 fully funded positions available for exceptionally qualified doctoral students. The purpose of the call is to evaluate the candidates so that the participating units can then offer the funding to the most successful applicants. The grants cover full-time employment in one of the participating units for the remaining duration of the doctoral studies, and the maximum extent of full-time doctoral studies is four years.

In this call you can either apply to a research group in general, or to a specific research project. The group descriptions can be found through the list of HICT supervisors at http://www.hict.fi/Tracks. In this call, in addition (or alternatively) to applying to a group, you can apply to any of the following specific research projects:

1.   EMERGENT (Excellent Mobile Experience through Flexible Access)

Professor Heikki Hämmäinen, Department of Communications and Networking, Aalto University

EMERGENT project develops wireless multi-access solutions for commercial and public safety & security purposes. The main objective is to improve the availability and quality (QoS/QoE) of mobile services by extending from single-access to multi-access architecture. Multi-access implies new business roles, value networks and pricing structures, which are analyzed using techno-economic methods. See further information at http://www.netlab.tkk.fi/u/hammaine/

2.   RIFE (architectuRe for an Internet For Everybody, EU project)

Professor Heikki Hämmäinen, Department of Communications and Networking, Aalto University

RIFE addresses the major societal challenge of providing affordable Internet access to those who cannot afford it by solving the technological challenge to increase the efficiency of the underlying transport networks and the involved architectures and protocols. The RIFE solution will harness unused transmission capacity, combined with placing content caches and service functionality closer to the user and will use heterogeneous transmission opportunities that range from localized mesh and home networks over well-connected ISP backhauls to scarce satellite resources. On the economic side, we will develop business opportunities for local authorities as well as backhaul network providers to create a sustainable value chain by introducing virtual network operators that utilize the under-used capacity in a new business relationship with local customers, enabling novel and often socially-driven business models. See further information at http://www.netlab.tkk.fi/u/hammaine/

3.   Interaction design, creative developer in Ubiquitous Computing for the Home 

Professor Giulio Jacucci, HIIT / Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki

Within the framework of a project on Ubiquitous Computing in the home for Social formation of Energy Choices, the doctoral candidate will research how Ubiquitous Technologies such as tags, sensors, pervasive displays, internet of things can support members of households and communities to adapt socially behaviour as in the case of energy choice. The candidate has a strong design orientation and creative development (programming) skills.  See further information at http://www.hiit.fi/uix

4.   Advanced constraint solver technology for intelligent systems

Docent Tomi Janhunen and Docent Tommi Junttila, Department of Computer Science, Aalto University.

We are looking for highly talented students who have previous knowledge of constraint based techniques such as Boolean satisfiability (SAT), satisfiability modulo theories (SMT), and answer-set programming (ASP). The research topics will be related with the development of new kinds of language extensions, translators, and solver technology as well as applying such techniques to challenging computational problems arising in the areas of computer-aided verification, AI planning, diagnosis, machine learning, statistical inference etc. We expect strong programming skills from candidates of interest. Candidates with previous knowledge in the application areas mentioned above are also encouraged to apply. See further information at http://research.ics.aalto.fi/cl/

5Constraint Reasoning and Optimization

Docent Matti Järvisalo, Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki

The Constraint Reasoning and Optimization group is looking for one or more highly motivated PhD student(s) within the following topics:

  • SAT-based procedures for decision problems beyond NP, Boolean optimization, and model counting.
  • Theoretical and/or empirical analysis of SAT solvers; interconnections between theory and practice.
  • Novel constraint-based (SAT/SMT/ASP/CP/MIP) approaches to learning graphical models.

The focus of PhD research will be tailored to fit the student's background and interests. Previous research experience in SAT/SMT/ASP/CP/MIP, in terms of either solver development, declarative modelling, or theoretical analysis, is an asset. Individuals with strong theory background, as well as more practically oriented students with strong implementation skills, are encouraged to apply. Constraint Reasoning and Optimization group: http://www.hiit.fi/cosco/coreo/

6.   Finnish Center of Excellence in Computational Inference Research COIN

  • Professor Samuel Kaski, Department of Computer Science/HIIT, Aalto University 
  • Professor Petri Myllymäki, Department of Computer Science/HIIT, University of Helsinki 
  • Docent Tomi Janhunen, Department of Computer Science/HIIT, Aalto University

COIN develops methods for transforming the data produced by the current data revolution into useful information. The key methodology for achieving this goal is statistical and computational inference based on the data. The emphasis is on large data collections and computationally demanding modelling and inference algorithms. Our mission is to push the boundary towards both more complex problems, requiring more structured data models, and towards extremely rapid inference. COIN brings in expertise on several different approaches to inference, with a unique opportunity to address the core computational challenges with combinations of machine learning, computational statistics, statistical physics, and constraint-based search and optimization. http://research.ics.aalto.fi/coin/

7.  Algorithms and complexity for self-assembly and self-organisation

Professor Pekka Orponen, Department of Computer Science, Aalto University

Self-organisation, or the emergence of complex patterns from the autonomous interactions of simple components, is a ubiquitous process in nature. The patterns may be static or dynamic; the self-organisation of physical elements (e.g. atoms, molecules) into stable spatial structures is referred to as self-assembly.

A vast literature exists in the physical and biological sciences on the modelling and analysis of self-organising systems, but the concept is relatively less studied from the computational point of view. However, as computational systems are becoming increasingly complex, distributed and networked, self-organisation is emerging as an important design and control paradigm, with existing applications in e.g. swarm robotics, sensor networks and the Internet of Things.

In this project, we are considering self-organisation specifically in the framework of algorithmic design and complexity analysis: are there general algorithmic design principles by which a self-organising system can be driven to achieve a desired pattern or behaviour? what are the relevant complexity measures? can one identify "complexity classes" of self-organising patterns or behaviours? http://users.ics.aalto.fi/orponen/

8.   Computational User Interface Design 

Professor Antti Oulasvirta, Department of Communications and Networking, Aalto University

COMPUTED aims to establish the foundations for solving UI design problems by combinatorial optimization methods that deploy mathematical models of user behavior as objective functions. Given objectives and constraints, a UI is automatically optimized. See further description at http://users.comnet.aalto.fi/oulasvir/

9.   Adaptive mobile multimedia systems

Professor Antti Ylä-Jääski, Department of Computer Science, Aalto University 

The student will develop optimized solutions for mobile multimedia services with an emphasis on adaptive video streaming. The goal is to optimally balance resource consumption with the quality of experience through adaptive protocols, intelligent content/service management, and user behavior analytics. Further information at http://cse.aalto.fi/en/personnel/antti-yla-jaaski/call-for-doctoral/

10.    Mobile crowdsensing and cloud computing

Professor Antti Ylä-Jääski, Department of Computer Science, Aalto University 

Develop new methodology and techniques for scalable mobile crowdsensing and intelligent data analysis of large-scale heterogeneous datasets in ubiquitous cloud environment, provide modular re-usable instruments for distributed mobile computing systems, evaluate the solutions through prototypes and public deployment, publish research results in high-quality international journals and conferences, and increase competence in Europe in theoretical and experimental areas of mobile computing. Further information at http://cse.aalto.fi/en/personnel/antti-yla-jaaski/call-for-doctoral/

11.   Protocols for bacterial nanonetworks

Professor Antti Ylä-Jääski, Department of Computer Science, Aalto University 

The area of molecular communications is a highly-interdisciplinary research area, where the aim is to create communication networks at the nanoscale using biological components/systems. This PhD topic will cover a specific area of molecular communication which is bacterial nanonetworks, where bacteria will be utilized as infomation carrier between nanomachines.

The PhD work will cover theoretical modeling and simulation of communication protocols in bacterial nanonetwork. The candidate is NOT required to have any background in molecular biology, where most concepts can be acquired from good literature reading. The PhD candidate will also have an opportunity to work and collaborate closely with wet lab biologists in order to enhance their knowledge in molecular biology, as well as validate their theoretical models with the wet lab experiments. Further information at http://cse.aalto.fi/en/personnel/antti-yla-jaaski/call-for-doctoral/



General information

Who is eligible to apply?

  • (i) Current doctoral students of HICT supervisors (see list at http://www.hict.fi/Tracks).

  • (ii) Potential new doctoral students who are willing to start their doctoral studies under one of the supervisors participating in the call (see list at http://www.hict.fi/Tracks) by the beginning of the funding period.

  • In both cases, in order to be successful in the call, the applicant needs to be an exceptional student. Although the number of grants is relatively high, we expect to receive hundreds of good applications, and the process is extremely competitive.

  • While all applicants who have submitted an application by the deadline will be appropriately considered, Aalto University and the University of Helsinki reserve the right to consider also other candidates for the announced positions. They may decide to make offers to exceptional candidates already before the end of the call.

  • In the Finnish university system, a person must have a Master's degree in order to enroll for doctoral studies. In case you wish to pursue graduate studies with a B.Sc. background, please apply first to one of the participating units' Master's programs (Aalto SCIAalto ELECU. Helsinki). Highly qualified new M.Sc. students may apply for a position as aspirant members of the HICT network via a separate process (to be established later), and for these honors students it will then be straightforward to continue studies as a doctoral student after the mandatory M.Sc. phase.

When does the funding period start?

  • The exact starting date can be negotiated between the student and the supervisor. The student must have completed his/her M.Sc. degree before HICT funding commences.

  • New students also need to go through the standard doctoral student enrollment process of the hosting university/school before the start of the funding period. The supervisors will help in this process, once the best candidates have been identified and linked to a supervisor.

How long is the funding period?

  • The maximum length of the funding period is four years (for starting doctoral students).

How much is the grant?

  • The exact amount of monthly salary depends on the stage of the doctoral studies and varies between 2,000 and 3,000 euros/month. The level of the salary is sufficient for a funded student to focus on his/her doctoral studies full-time, without need to resort to other sources of income.

What are the duties and benefits of a doctoral student?

  • Funded doctoral students are typically hired as full-time employees for the duration of their doctoral studies. The contract includes the normal occupational health benefits of the employing university, and Finland has a comprehensive social security system.

  • The annual total workload of research and teaching staff at Finnish universities is 1600 hours. In addition to doctoral studies, persons hired are expected to participate in the supervision of students and teaching following the standard practices of the recruiting unit.

Where are the doctoral studies to take place?

  • Physically the main work location is at the department of the supervisor: in case of the Aalto departments, these are located in the Otaniemi Campus, while the Department of Computer Science of University of Helsinki is located at the Kumpula Science Campus. The joint research institute HIIT that coordinates the activities of HICT operates on both campuses.

  • Both campuses are easily reachable from Helsinki city center by public transportation.

  • The distance between Otaniemi and Kumpula is only some 15 kilometers, and the participating departments collaborate frequently in research and education (in doctoral education through the HICT network). It is administratively very easy to incorporate courses from the other university as part of a doctoral degree in the other university. HICT will also organize joint seminars, lecture series, workshops and other events for its students.

If I come to study in Helsinki, do I need to learn Finnish?

Problems with the application process?

  • Please do not contact any of the supervisors, but first read all the material carefully, and if your problem is still unsolved, only then send email to hict-apply[at]hiit.fi.


Application process

  • Application form: https://apply.aalto.fi/?ff/HICT_application_2015_spring  (open January 15 -  Feburary 18)

  • When does the call open?
    • The electronic application form opens January 15, 2015 at 16:00 EET (UTC+2). You can already start preparing the necessary materials (see the instructions below) before the form opens.
  • When does the call close?
    • The application form closes on February 15, 2015 at 23:59 EET (UTC+2). Incomplete applications or applications arriving after the deadline will not be considered.
  • How are the applications submitted?
    • Applications need to be submitted through the online application server (electronic form). Applications sent through any other means will not be processed.
  • What material is required in the application?
    • Compulsory information/attachments (all text documents to be provided in pdf):
      • Motivation letter
        • For current students, it is sufficient to identify the supervisor and briefly explain the present status of the studies.
        • Please do not contact the potential supervisors directly, but spend your efforts in making your motivation letter as convincing as possible, so that one of the potential supervisors gets interested. If you have arguments concerning your application, do not send them by email, but state them in the motivation letter.
      • For potential new students, the background and future plans of the student, and in particular the reasons for selecting the three potential supervisors (you can get more information on the participating supervisors through their web pages).
      • For new students: a ranked list of three potential supervisors from the list of participating supervisors (see  http://www.hict.fi/Tracks).

      • A study transcript provided by the applicant's university that lists studies completed and grades achieved by the end of December 2014.

      • A copy of the M.Sc. degree certificate. If the degree is still pending, then a plan for its completion must be provided. The degree must be completed by the time HICT funding commences.

      • A copy of passport or ID card

      • A complete curriculum vitae, describing education and employment history​​​

    • Optional information/attachments:

      • ​Names, positions, affiliations and e-mail addresses of at most 3 senior academic people available for providing recommendation letters upon request from HICT.

      • Copy of English language proficiency certificate (TOEFL, IELTS, CAE/CPE). The universities participating in HICT have strict language skills requirements for doctoral students (Aalto UniversityUniversity of Helsinki). These must be satisfied in order to be enrolled as a doctoral student, and while the language proficiency certificate is optional at the first application stage, it will be required from the applicants who continue into later stages.
  • What happens after the call closes?
    • ​The potential supervisors review the applications, and if interested, contact the applicant directly for further discussions.