Open position in AI / crowdsourcing / human computation research!

Figure showing a human intelligence task asking if a photograph contains a stop sign.

image credit: Randall Munroe, xkcd

Are you interested in "offloading work to random strangers" (see figure), possibly with the objective of making machines more intelligent?

Are you ready to work on a master's thesis starting asap, and possibly (but not necessarily) interested in pursuing a doctoral degree afterwards?

Do you have experience in either

  • user studies (plus good knowledge of web programming, front- and back-end) OR
  • algorithm design (including relevant mathematics and analysis skills)?

(Of course you can be interested in both, but that's not really a requirement.)

If yes, I have some nice thesis topics! Below are two illustrative examples, but your own ideas are of course always welcome. Theme 1 is more hands-on, while Theme 2 allows for some nice theoretical work.

Theme 1: Crowdsourced natural language training data for machine learning

Natural language user interfaces (e.g. chatbots) allow the user to simply talk to the computer, much like they would to another person. To build a natural language UI using machine learning requires usually very large amounts of training data. The objective is to study the use of crowdsourcing techniques, for example "games with a purpose" for collecting such training data without implementing the, possibly costly, final user interface.

Theme 2: Human powered data analysis with relative distance comparisons

The input to several data analysis algorithms is a distance matrix with pairwise distances between data items. Commonly this matrix is defined e.g. in terms of the Euclidean distance between feature vectors. However, computing absolute (Euclidean or other) distances is not feasible e.g. if the distance information is obtained from a crowd of human annotators. The objective is to design and analyse, say, clustering algorithms that use (possibly noisy) relative distance comparisons.

Location, salary, duration of contract

The position is situated at the Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki.

Salary is determined by the university salary system, and is about 2000 eur / month (full-time, also depends on amount of completed studies).

The position is fixed-term (length negotiable, but preferably approx 6 months), and can be filled either full-time or part-time starting asap.

Further information

Antti Ukkonen, D.Sc.(tech), Academy Research Fellow
antti.ukkonen (at)