Open positions

Two PhD positions and one Postdoc position in robot learning from demonstration and manipulation skills transfer are currently open in the Robot Learning & Interaction Group at the Idiap Research Institute.

The PhD candidate should hold a Master degree in engineering, computer science, physics or applied mathematics, with a background in linear algebra, statistics, optimization, signal processing, control and programming. The PhD position is for 4 years, provided successful progress, and should lead to a dissertation. The selected candidates will become doctoral students at EPFL provided acceptance by the Doctoral School at EPFL. Annual gross salary ranges from 47,000 CHF (first year) to 50,000 CHF (last year).

The Postdoc candidate should hold a PhD degree in computer science, engineering, physics or applied mathematics, with a background in linear algebra, statistics, optimization, signal processing, control and programming. The Postdoc position is from one to two years. The starting date can be discussed. Annual gross salary is 80,000 CHF. Part time employment is possible if desired.

These positions will remain open until they have been filled, ideally early 2019. The webpage will be updated once the positions have been filled.

The research in the Robot Learning & Interaction Group span several disciplines at the crossroad of machine learning, statistics, optimal control, differential geometry, human motion sciences and user interfaces. Specific examples of techniques we have been using include hidden Markov models (HMM), Gaussian process regression (GPR), model predictive control (MPC), Riemannian geometry and tensor methods. Our group is small, which facilitates both the collaboration within the group and the visibility of each person's research. We are particularly interested in the challenge of learning/transferring skills from fewer trials or demonstrations than what is currently achieved. Related topics include transfer learning, active learning, and the use of model priors that are valid for a wide range of skills.

Who do I seek?

Our research activities span several branches of science, and there is consequently no specific educational background sought for these positions. The ideal candidate should have strong expertise in one or a subset of the research topics described above. Other areas of research extending our current lines of research are also welcome for outstanding candidates: if you are a great candidate, we will adapt the project to you!

The ideal candidate is enthusiastic, creative, curious and motivated to do research with both theory and practice. I expect strong mathematical skills (in particular, in linear algebra, machine learning or optimization) and strong coding skills (C++, Python or Matlab).

It is important that you take the time to prepare a cover letter (max 2 pages) to explain how your background fit with our research activities (see the short description of our research and our latest publications). We receive many applications (usually over a hundred for each open position) and a good cover letter can be decisive to be shortlisted.

When preparing your CV, do not assume I know everything you know! In particular, for PhD positions, I am generally not aware of university rankings or grading systems. when available, relative ranking can then be more informative, such as average grade or ranks in the class. I may otherwise not necessarily be able to gauge how good you are from your grades or your university. If you are applying for a PhD position, you may not have experience with research, but you will most likely have done project work, so tell me about the projects you liked the most!

How to apply?

Interested candidates should submit a CV, a cover letter, transcripts of grades (for PhD positions only), and the names of three references (or recommendation letters) through the Idiap online recruitment system: link to PhD positions, link to Postdoc position.

What is Idiap?

Idiap is an independent not-for-profit research institute, affiliated with the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). It is located in the town of Martigny in Valais, a scenic region in the south of Switzerland, surrounded by the highest mountains of Europe, and offering exceptional quality of life, exciting recreational activities, including hiking, climbing and skiing, as well as varied cultural activities. It is within proximity to Lausanne and Geneva.

The pdf copy of our annual reports is the best way to know more about Idiap.

Idiap offers excellent salaries and conditions at all levels in a young, high-quality, dynamic, and multicultural environment. Although Idiap is located in the French part of Switzerland, English is the official working language. Free French lessons are also provided on a complimentary basis. Idiap is an equal opportunity employer and is actively involved in the "Advancement of Women in Science" European initiative. The Institute seeks to maintain a principle of open competition (on the basis of merit) to appoint the best candidate, provides equal opportunity for all candidates, and equally encourage both genders to apply.

For frequently asked questions (FAQs) about living in Switzerland, you can visit