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Computational Modelling of Language Compositionality through Human-Robot Interaction

   School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

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  Dr Amir ALY, Dr Thomas Wennekers, Prof A Cangelosi  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This exciting project tries to investigate language compositionality (from the word to sentence levels) through human-robot interaction with a view to making a robot able to understand human instructions so as to emerge its own language. This requires inferring the latent syntactic structure of language through perceptual information (e.g., visual and/or haptic perception) and defining its mechanism of compositional development, which is the main target to investigate that goes beyond the current state-of-the-art of cognitive robotics and AI.

This project will set the basis for learning the meaning of words and their syntactic categories (e.g., nouns, verbs) through perception in the surroundings, and learning language grammar - through an unsupervised approach - so as to understand phrases and sentences. Some basic questions (among others) that this project will try to investigate are:

  1. How can words, in vector form, combine together to create meaningful phrases and sentences?
  2. How can we online update the syntactic structure of language through perceptual information?
  3. How can a robot ground / learn the meaning of words, phrases, and sentences in perception through interaction with humans and the environment?

This ambitious project will allow the student to have a multidisciplinary approach and will strongly enrich the student vision of the challenges facing AI, robotics, and computational linguistics in a wide range. This project also benefits from a strong supervisory team and international collaborators. Interested students from the wide area of computer science and artificial intelligence are encouraged to apply. This project has no specific prerequisites.


Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant Masters qualification.

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr. Amir ALY, [Email Address Removed].

For further information on research studentships at the University of Plymouth and to apply for this position please visit: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/student-life/your-studies/research-degrees/postgraduate-research-studentships and select the studentship you would like to apply for. Please clearly state the name of the DoS and studentship that you are applying for on your personal statement.

Please see here for a list of supporting documents to upload with your application.

For more information on the admissions process generally, please contact [Email Address Removed].

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on 04 May 2022. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview shortly after the deadline. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received a response within six weeks of the closing date should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

Funding Notes

The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home tuition fees plus a stipend of £16,062.00 per annum (2022/23 rate). The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover International fees will have to cover the difference between the Home and the International tuition fee rates (approximately £12,670 per annum).
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