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  • PhD Position on Self-Evolving Communities

Position type: PhD Student
Research institute: IIIA-CSIC, Barcelona
Research theme: Multiagent system, self-evolution, goals, norms, interaction protocols
Project: PRAISE
Scientific advisors: Prof. Carles Sierra ( & Dr. Nardine Osman (
Salary: 22.128,96 per annum, paid in 14 instalments (1.580,64 per month)
Start date: 01 February 2014 (a later date is possible, depending on the candidates' circumstances)
Application deadline: 30 November 2013

    • About IIIA-CSIC:

    The Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, IIIA-CSIC, belongs to the Spanish National Research Council, Spain's largest public institution devoted to research and technological development. The IIIA-CSIC is a leading research centre in Europe in the areas of multiagent systems, machine learning, and uncertainty reasoning. It attracts funding from the European, Spanish, and regional governments and has substantial collaborative research projects
    with industry.

    • Subject:

    Self-organisation and self-evolution is evident in physics, chemistry, biology, and human societies. Despite the existing literature on the topic, we believe self-organisation and self-evolution is still missing in the IT tools (whether online or offline) we are building and using. In the last decade, human interactions have been moving more and more towards social media. The time we spend interacting with others in virtual communities and networks is tremendous. Yet, the tools supporting those interactions remain rigid.
    We argue that just like human communities, e-communities (defined by their software) also need to self-evolve. Instead of creating numerous rigid systems, which is a very common issue with online social systems, what we should aim at instead is providing tools for creating self-evolving systems that adapt to the community's needs. We believe different communities should be governed by different rules. These rules should be an ever evolving set resulting from the aspirations of its members, and not a rigid set defined by a corporation (or a system designer) that does not take the community members' interests at heart. Furthermore, for the community's rules to be effective, they need to be tailored to the specific character traits of the community members as well as considering some other external influences.
    The proposed research work will be based on the concept of defining communities through self-evolving charters, which are composed of (1) the community's goals, (2) the community's norms, and (3) the interaction protocols, including evolution protocols. Evolution is then triggered by the system when goals are not fulfilled, suggesting the modification of the community's charter. Community members, using numerous technologies, should then agree on a (hopefully) more coherent charter.
    The PhD research will specifically focus on adapting electronic institutions (EIs) [1], which provide a computational model for coordinating the activities of multiple interacting software agents, in such a way that they accommodate self-evolving community charters.

    • Funding:

    The Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (IIIA-CSIC) will offer a 3-year research position for students pursuing a full-time PhD degree in Artificial Intelligence in the area of multiagent systems. The position is offered in the context of PRAISE, a high-profile international research project that is being funded under the European Commission's 7th Framework Programme.


    • Eligibility and Qualifications:

    Candidates are required to have a high-quality master's degree in computer science or related fields (or have completed equivalent qualifications). Familiarity with artificial intelligence and multiagent systems will be considered an advantage. Applicants must be of outstanding academic merit, they should be able to demonstrate strong motivation to conduct research, and they should have very good communication skills in English.

    • How to Apply:

    Candidates need to fill out the web application form at by 30 November 2013, where they will be required to provide the following information:

      • personal data;
      • a short statement, in English, of why they are interested in pursuing a PhD at IIIA-CSIC;
      • name and contact information of one or two persons who are willing to provide confidential references;
      • an academic transcript with grade point average;
      • any relevant scientific reports or publications, if applicable; and
      • a complete CV in PDF format.

For further information please contact Prof. Carles Sierra ( or Dr. Nardine Osman (
[1] Mark d'Inverno, Michael Luck, Pablo Noriega, Juan A. Rodriguez-Aguilar, and Carles Sierra. Communicating open systems. Artificial Intelligence, 186:38–94, July 2012.