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Autonomous development of behaviour hierarchies in artificial intelligence

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, April 01, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

A fundamental problem in AI is how to endow artificial agents with the ability to autonomously form useful high-level behaviours (for example, grasping) from available behavioural units (for example, primitive sensory and motor actions available to a robot). This ability allows a developmental process during which an agent can learn to display behaviours of increasing complexity through continuously building on its existing set of skills to acquire new ones. For example, grasping may be followed by manipulating objects in different ways, which may be followed by using a key to unlock the door to an adjacent room, and so on, forming a continuously growing hierarchy of behaviours.

This project aims to develop algorithms that enable an artificial agent to autonomously go through such a developmental process. Through this process, the agent develops the capability of performing tasks of increasing difficulty without guidance tailored for the specific domain in which it operates. The type of open-ended developmental process targeted by this project is fundamentally different from how artificial agents learn to perform complex tasks today and has the potential to dramatically increase their capabilities.

The project will use the well-developed theoretical framework of reinforcement learning. The algorithmic approaches explored will depend on the background and interests of the student, and may include, for example, graph-theoretic approaches motivated by the “bottleneck” concept. Application areas may include, but are not limited to, engineering and robotics.

The project will be supervised by Dr Özgür Şimşek at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bath. The University is located in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bath, providing a vibrant research environment in one of the most beautiful areas in the UK.

This project is associated with the UKRI CDT in Accountable, Responsible and Transparent AI (ART-AI), which is looking for its first cohort of at least 10 students to start in September 2019. Students will be fully funded for 4 years (stipend, UK/EU tuition fees and research support budget). Further details can be found at: http://www.bath.ac.uk/research-centres/ukri-centre-for-doctoral-training-in-accountable-responsible-and-transparent-ai/.

Desirable qualities in candidates include intellectual curiosity, a strong background in maths and programming experience.

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Informal enquiries about the project should be directed to Dr Özgür Şimşek ().

Enquiries about the application process should be sent to .

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Computer Science: https://samis.bath.ac.uk/urd/sits.urd/run/siw_ipp_lgn.login?process=siw_ipp_app&code1=RDUCM-FP01&code2=0013

Start date: 23 September 2019.

Funding Notes

ART-AI CDT studentships are available on a competition basis for UK and EU students for up to 4 years. Funding will cover UK/EU tuition fees as well as providing maintenance at the UKRI doctoral stipend rate (£15,009 per annum for 2019/20) and a training support fee of £1,000 per annum.

We also welcome all-year-round applications from self-funded candidates and candidates who can source their own funding.

How good is research at University of Bath in Computer Science and Informatics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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