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PhD positions in knowledge engineering, Bolzano (Italy), Deadline: 1 Jul 2022

PhD opportunity on “strategy and explainability for knowledge bases” at the Faculty of Computer Science of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano in Italy

The Faculty of Computer Science of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano 
(unibz) offers 21 three-year grants for its PhD programme.

The KRDB Research Centre for Knowledge and Data of the faculty is looking 
specifically for candidates suitable for a PhD project titled: “Strategy 
and Explainability for Knowledge Bases”.

Description: This research project is about advancing the reasoning with 
conflicting knowledge, both in the strong sense of inconsistency, and in 
weaker varieties that involve conceptual clashes, empty concepts, or 
over-commitments. It focuses on bringing together three recent strands of 
research, namely 1) methods to weight information, 2) methods to weaken 
axioms, and 3) methods to negotiate or play games with information.

The general application area is knowledge engineering, in particular 
providing solutions to the problem of resolving inconsistent information 
when an agent adds new knowledge to a knowledge base. But additionally, 
this entails the problem of explaining why a certain combination of 
knowledge is inconsistent, and it requires explaining or justifying the 
proposed changes.

Weighted logic focuses on the idea that different pieces of information 
have different values, or weights, reflecting a very natural idea from 
common sense reasoning. Axiom weakening allows for a fine-grained repair 
of inconsistent knowledge bases. Its main advantage is that it repairs 
them by making axioms less restrictive rather than by deleting them.

Typical research questions are: - Strategic reasoning: How can the 
techniques from multiagent systems and game theory be applied to problems 
of collaborative ontology engineering and concept combination? E.g., how 
can different agents agree on the weight of a particular piece of 
information? - Explainability: How can we best combine the ideas of 
weighted logic, where different pieces of information have different 
weights, and refinement, where we specialize or generalize our 
information? How can we explain and justify the weakening of information?

Required skills: In general, applicants for this project are expected to 
have some good acquaintance with classical logic and its syntax and 
semantics. More advanced knowledge of proof methods, meta-theory, and 
non-classical logic will be a plus. The ideal candidate will already have 
some background in agents or game theory as well as KR languages such as 
description logics. Programming skills: experience with programming would 
be valuable, particularly for the purpose of carrying out evaluation 
studies and improving research prototypes.

About the grant: Each grant amounts to 51,000 € (i.e., 17,000 euros per 
year, net after taxes); for research visits abroad, the grant increases up 
to 50%. Additional substantial extra funding (including a personal budget 
of 2,500 euros per year) is available for participation in international 
conferences, schools, workshops, and research visits.

Applications: The deadline for applications will be on the 1st of July 
2022. (Applicants must have completed their Master’s degree at the time of 
enrolment by the 31st of October.)

For more information, the call, and applications look at: 

++ About Bolzano and unibz: The university is located in one of the most 
fascinating European regions, the tri-lingual South Tyrol. This young 
university has already established itself as an important research 
institution, both in Italy and abroad, and is accordingly highly evaluated 
in several international rankings. The KRDB Research Centre for Knowledge 
and Data of the faculty of Computer Science is widely recognised as one of 
the internationally leading groups in Artificial Intelligence and 
Knowledge Representation research, with a synergy between foundational and 
application-oriented research. The city of Bozen-Bolzano, the capital of 
South Tyrol, has exceptional standards of living, and is a beautiful 
Italian city of mixed Austrian-Italian cultural heritage, and perfectly 
located in the Dolomites mountains, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Contact the supervisors: Oliver Kutz 
oliver.kutz@unibz.it<mailto:oliver.kutz@unibz.it> and Nicolas Troquard 


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