PhD Position: The Frontier of Statistical Physics, Information Theory, and Mathematics

The Faculty of Science, University of Amsterdam is seeking a highly motivated and ambitious PhD candidate to conduct interdisciplinary theoretical research on the development of a fundamental theory of emergence from an information theoretic perspective.

The main challenge in developing a general theory of emergence is to understand how the complex behaviors of many interacting units can give rise to a simpler macroscopic behaviour while abstracting away the mechanistic details of the complex interactions.

Over the past century, the research on complex systems has focused on identifying the microscopic interactions that may lead to such emergent behavior, and emergence has been mainly studied on a case-by-case basis. However, the last decades have seen fast development in experimental techniques that have enabled recording data from complex systems at both large scales and high resolutions. This opens up the possibility to understand emergent phenomena in real systems through the lens of data analysis, instead of systems modeling.
During this PhD, candidates will explore a new approach to a theory of emergence, by studying the structure of information in data from a topological perspective and tackling the question of how simpler information structures emerge. The project will build upon recent developments in two different lines of research: on the topological structure of information and statistical models on one hand, and on the information-theoretic characterization of what simplicity means on the other hand. 


Candidates are expected to conduct original and fundamental research at the intersection of information theory, statistical physics, and mathematics.                                                     

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They will:

  • develop a new fundamental framework for a data-driven approach to Emergence;
  • test possible applications of their approach on artificial and real data;
  • publish their work in peer-reviewed international journals;
  • present their work in seminars, and at international workshops and conferences;
  • attend the weekly seminars and discussion days at the Dutch Institute for Emergent Phenomena (DIEP);
  • Actively participate in the activities of the FAEME research program (including workshops and annual sandpits), and help with its organization;
  • take part in the teaching, and assist with the supervision of interdisciplinary research projects for Bachelor and Master students.

Duration: 04 years

Starting Date: September 1, 2023.


  •  A gross monthly salary of € 2,541 to € 3,247 dependent on relevant experience.
  • 8% holiday allowance and the 8,3% year-end allowance.

Besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment, they offer multiple fringe benefits:

  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime) and extra holidays between Christmas and 1 January;
  • multiple courses to follow from the Teaching and Learning Centre;
  • a complete educational program for PhD students;
  • multiple courses on topics such as leadership for academic staff;
  • multiple courses on topics such as time management, and handling stress and an online learning platform;
  • 7 weeks birth leave (partner leave) with 100% salary;
  • partly paid parental leave;
  • the possibility to set up a workplace at home;
  • a pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution;
  • the possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;
  • help with housing for a studio or small apartment when they’re moving from abroad.

Job Requirements

  • a Master’s degree in fundamental physics (e.g., theoretical physics, physics of complex systems), or in mathematics, or in theoretical computer science;
  • a good knowledge of basic probability theory and linear algebra;
  • some knowledge in advanced statistical physics, information theory, and topology
  • strong interest and aptitude for theoretical work;
  • a curious nature and a strong interest in interdisciplinary research;
  • some affinity for data-driven and computational research;
  • a motivated, passionate, and creative attitude;
  • a collaborative spirit and the capability of working with other team members;
  • excellent written and oral communication skills in English.

Application Process

Applications should include the following information (all files besides their cv should be submitted in one single pdf file):

  • a detailed Curriculum Vitae, including education and work experience;
  • a motivation letter (maximum 1 page), explaining why they are interested in this position and why they think they are a good fit for it;
  • the names and email addresses of two academic referees, who can provide a recommendation letter;
  • a grade transcript (please provide a short explanation of the grading system);
  • a PDF version of their MSc thesis (or, if not finalized yet, a summary of their MSc research project);
  • if applicable: a list of scientific publications.

To apply for PhD Position: The Frontier of Statistical Physics, Information Theory, and Mathematicsclick here.

Deadline: June 18, 2023.

For more information on the PhD Position: The Frontier of Statistical Physics, Information Theory, and Mathematics, visit the official site.

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