# PhD position: `Understanding and optimization of human choice behavior? University of Twente, The Netherlands, Stochastic Operations Research department

## PhD position: `Understanding and optimization of human choice behavior? University of Twente, The Netherlands, Stochastic Operations Research department

PhD position: `Understanding and optimization of human choice behavior?

University of Twente, The Netherlands, Stochastic Operations Research department http://www.utwente.nl/en/

The department of Stochastic Operations Research (SOR<http://www.utwente.nl/ewi/sor/>) is part of the faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science. The mission of SOR is to conduct mathematical education and research of internationally high standards in the areas of stochastic processes and mathematics of operations research, to contribute to the development of mathematics in a multidisciplinary engineering environment, and to contribute to a better understanding and functioning of our increasingly complex society. Research is embedded in the research institute CTIT.

The challenge: A key challenge in many mathematical decision problems that involve human interaction is to understand how people choose from available alternatives, and how this choice depend on properties of the alternatives. For example, given a number of competing firms that sell certain products with similar characteristics, how do the selling prices affect the probability that a customer buys at a particular shop? Or what is the probability that a visitor of a website decides to click on an online-advertisement, and how does this depend on the profile of the visitor and on properties of the online ad? Or what is the probability that a person with a certain intelligence selects the correct answer in a multiple-choice exam-question?

These questions are typically addressed using so-called discrete-choice models: probabilistic models that describe how people choose from a set of alternatives with certain properties. These models have come to play an important role in various online optimization problems, for instance optimization of recommendation systems, selling prices, online advertisements.

The shared feature of these problems is that the optimal solution is not known upfront, but only gradually learned as more and more choice data becomes available. Handling these joint learning-and-optimization problems requires detailed understanding of statistical estimators for discrete-choice models, but such estimators are currently only understood in a few very simple cases. The goal of the PhD project is to develop the mathematical theory required to incorporate realistic models of human choice behavior into decision problems under uncertainty.

Our offer: We offer a challenging position in an inspiring environment. You will have an employment contract for the duration of 4 years and can participate in all employee benefits the UT offers. The gross monthly salary starts with Euro2125,- in the first year and increases to Euro2718,- in the fourth year of your employment. The salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of year bonus of 8.33%. A high-quality training program is part of the agreement. You and your supervisor will make up a plan for the additional education and supervising that you specifically need. The research has to result in a thesis at the end of the employment period. International applicants moving to the Netherlands are possibly eligible to a tax advantage policy known as the 30% ruling depending on background. The University of Twente offers attractive employment conditions, e.g., moving costs.

Your profile: You have a master?s degree in mathematics or econometrics, with excellent grades. You have affinity for stochastics, statistics, and operations research. You are creative, ambitious, able to work independently, and you enjoy doing mathematics. You are fluent in English.

For more information contact dr. A. V. den Boer, email: a.v.denboer@utwente.nl<mailto:a.alhanbali@utwente.nl>, phone: +31(0) 53 489 3461.

University of Twente, The Netherlands, Stochastic Operations Research department http://www.utwente.nl/en/

The department of Stochastic Operations Research (SOR<http://www.utwente.nl/ewi/sor/>) is part of the faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science. The mission of SOR is to conduct mathematical education and research of internationally high standards in the areas of stochastic processes and mathematics of operations research, to contribute to the development of mathematics in a multidisciplinary engineering environment, and to contribute to a better understanding and functioning of our increasingly complex society. Research is embedded in the research institute CTIT.

The challenge: A key challenge in many mathematical decision problems that involve human interaction is to understand how people choose from available alternatives, and how this choice depend on properties of the alternatives. For example, given a number of competing firms that sell certain products with similar characteristics, how do the selling prices affect the probability that a customer buys at a particular shop? Or what is the probability that a visitor of a website decides to click on an online-advertisement, and how does this depend on the profile of the visitor and on properties of the online ad? Or what is the probability that a person with a certain intelligence selects the correct answer in a multiple-choice exam-question?

These questions are typically addressed using so-called discrete-choice models: probabilistic models that describe how people choose from a set of alternatives with certain properties. These models have come to play an important role in various online optimization problems, for instance optimization of recommendation systems, selling prices, online advertisements.

The shared feature of these problems is that the optimal solution is not known upfront, but only gradually learned as more and more choice data becomes available. Handling these joint learning-and-optimization problems requires detailed understanding of statistical estimators for discrete-choice models, but such estimators are currently only understood in a few very simple cases. The goal of the PhD project is to develop the mathematical theory required to incorporate realistic models of human choice behavior into decision problems under uncertainty.

Our offer: We offer a challenging position in an inspiring environment. You will have an employment contract for the duration of 4 years and can participate in all employee benefits the UT offers. The gross monthly salary starts with Euro2125,- in the first year and increases to Euro2718,- in the fourth year of your employment. The salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of year bonus of 8.33%. A high-quality training program is part of the agreement. You and your supervisor will make up a plan for the additional education and supervising that you specifically need. The research has to result in a thesis at the end of the employment period. International applicants moving to the Netherlands are possibly eligible to a tax advantage policy known as the 30% ruling depending on background. The University of Twente offers attractive employment conditions, e.g., moving costs.

Your profile: You have a master?s degree in mathematics or econometrics, with excellent grades. You have affinity for stochastics, statistics, and operations research. You are creative, ambitious, able to work independently, and you enjoy doing mathematics. You are fluent in English.

For more information contact dr. A. V. den Boer, email: a.v.denboer@utwente.nl<mailto:a.alhanbali@utwente.nl>, phone: +31(0) 53 489 3461.

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