Call for a PhD position in Operations Research: theory and applications

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
March 10, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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Call for a PhD position in Operations Research: theory and applications

(ref. BAP-2023-68)

Last modification : Tuesday, February 7, 2023

SKEMA Business School (France) and KU Leuven Faculty of Business Economics (Belgium) have a vacancy for one full-time PhD scholarship, in the framework of the joint KU Leuven – SKEMA doctoral program in AI & OM.


The researcher to be hired will work in the field of Operations Research and explainable AI under the supervision of Dr. Johannes De Smedt and Dr. Xuefei Lu. This work should lead to a PhD degree granted by KU Leuven and SKEMA via the SKEMA – KU Leuven Joint Degree doctoral program “AI in OM”.

The overarching topic of this research is to develop eXplainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) solutions for AI models which are inherently uninterpretable and any link between input and output is missing. The candidate will investigate this topic in the context of supporting operations management and business analyses, from both a theoretical and practical perspective. A wide range of applications are possible, including financial forecasting, modeling the spread of diseases, process analytics, and so on. The candidate will also study when to use interpretable models and when to use post hoc explanation methods.

The main focus lies in incorporating global sensitivity analysis techniques to open black box machine learning models such as generative adversarial networks (GANs) to ensure interpretable and robust predictions.

The main research keywords of this position are: • Explainable AI • Predictive analytics • Advanced Machine Learning methods • Generative adversarial networks (GANs) • Kriging (or Gaussian Process regression) • Uncertainty quantification

• Global sensitivity analysis

The interested candidates will find a dynamic and pleasant working environment in both universities, in groups that are actively involved in scientific research at the highest international level.

The candidate will be expected to participate in seminars and conferences, be internationally mobile, and enroll in both institutes' PhD programs. The candidate can be asked to give guidance to Bachelor and Master students, and to be involved in teaching activities.


The candidate should have a strong interest in operations research, machine learning, and their diverse applications. He/she should preferably hold a master's degree in Operations Research, Business Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Industrial Engineering, or equivalent. An appropriate command of written and spoken English is a requirement, and experience with at least one programming language is an asset. Students that are currently in the final year of their master's are especially encouraged to apply.


We offer employment as a full-time doctoral scholarship for 1 year at KU Leuven, followed by 3-year employment at SKEMA Business School (provided that the candidate successfully passes first-year requirements at KU Leuven). The tentative starting date is September 18th, 2023, depending on the availability of the candidate.

More details on this joint program can be found at this link.


For more information please contact one of the supervisors: Dr. Xuefei Lu [email protected] Dr. Johannes De Smedt [email protected] Applications can only be received via KU Leuven's online application tool, applications via any other way will not be considered. When applying, you must upload your transcripts, two recommendation letters, motivation letter and CV in pdf format. In the motivation letter, you should specifically indicate why you are the right person for the vacant position. You can also upload a publication list, photo, and/or other attachments.

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at [email protected]

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