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PhD Position on Explainable AI for Public Policy Design

Challenge: Supporting public policy design and analysis with explainable AI
Change: Fair, interpretable, and human-centered AI tools
Impact: Trustworthy and unbiased AI support in real-world applications

ongeveer 2 maanden geleden


Mekelweg, Delft, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
32 - 38 uur
€ 2434 - € 3111 per maand


The lack of transparency hinders the use of AI techniques in real decision-support contexts since results obtained from black-box optimization methods are generally not trusted. We would not expect decision makers to leverage policy recommendations when those recommendations cannot be fully explained.

This PhD project will focus on enhancing the interpretability and explainability of bio-inspired heuristic optimization methods. In particular, this project will formalize the patterns and pathways of operators when searching for efficient tradeoffs. Additionally, it will set foundations to assess interpretability, as currently there is ambiguity about what exactly constitutes interpretability in heuristic methods. Further, we will advance knowledge about the trade-offs between interpretability and predictive accuracy.

In short, this project will build on the increasing body of literature on explainable AI, but contribute a new research line on interpretable and explainable heuristic methods with the aim of improving accountability of AI-based decision support.

This is a PhD position in the Hippo (Hyper-heuristics for interpretable public policy analysis) lab. The core goal of the Hippo lab is to advance multi-purpose decision support using collaborative and heuristic AI methods. You will work as part of an interdisciplinary team between the Interactive Intelligence section in the Intelligent Systems (INSY) department at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) and the Policy Analysis section in the Multi-Actor systems (MAS) department at the Faculty of Technology Policy and Management (TPM), tackling the following major scientific challenges:

  1. How can we integrate subjective notions of ethics and fairness into algorithmic design?
  2. How can we create an optimality taxonomy to find effective trade-offs in policy search?
  3. How can we develop interpretable AI methods to gain public confidence and provide unbiased support in real decision-making contexts?
  4. How can we support public policy deliberation via collaborative AI methods?

The Hippo lab is a Delft Artificial Intelligence Lab. Artificial Intelligence, Data and Digitalisation are becoming increasingly important when looking for answers to major scientific and societal challenges. In a DAI-lab, experts in ‘the fundamentals of AI technology’ along with experts in ‘AI challenges’ run a shared lab. As a PhD, you will work with at least two academic members of staff and three other PhD candidates. In total TU Delft will establish 24 DAI-Labs, where 48 Tenure Trackers and 96 PhD candidates will have the opportunity to push the boundaries of science using AI. Each team is driven by research questions which arise from scientific and societal challenges, and contribute to the development and execution of domain specific education. Data and Digitalisation education related activities. All team members have many opportunities for self-development. You will be a member of the thriving DAI-Lab community that fosters cross-fertilization between talents with different expertise and disciplines.

For description of other projects in Hippo lab, visit: https://ii.tudelft.nl/~pradeep/hippo.html


The candidate must have:

  • Completed an MSc degree in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Operations Research, or a field relevant to the PhD research.
  • Demonstrated competence or strong interest in an artificial intelligence topic such as explainable AI, multi-objective optimization, evolutionary computing, or machine learning.
  • Strong programming skills.
  • Good English language and communication skills (written and oral).
  • An affinity with teaching and guiding students.

Team spirit and open personality for cooperation with colleagues and co-supervision of students.


TU Delft offers DAI-Lab PhD candidates a 5-year contract (as opposed to the normal 4-years, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year) and will be deployed for AI-related education for the usual teaching effort for PhD students in the faculty plus an additional 20%. The extra year compared to the usual 4-year contract accommodates the 20% additional AI, Data and Digitalisation education related activities.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2434 per month in the first year to € 3270 in the fifth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health

insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible

work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to

Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Pradeep K. Murukannaiah, Assistant Professor, email: P.K.Murukannaiah@tudelft.nl, tel: +31 15 27 82291