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About the DS Group


The Distributed Systems (DS) group at the University of Groningen is a growing group focusing on the exploitation of all the possibilities offered by Service-Oriented Computing by performing outstanding research in the areas of distributed systems, embedded systems, and artificial intelligence, all from the theoretical and the practical perspectives. The group currently consists of 2 staff members and 5 PhD students.

The DS group offers the following vacancies for two Ph.D. candidates.


Area: Peer to Peer Architectures for the Power Grid

Vacancies: 1 PhD student

Project description: The Energy sector is undergoing a radical transformation. The traditional distinction between producer and consumer is slowly disappearing. In fact, energy production by such diverse means as photovoltaic panels, cogeneration, or wind power is easily within reach of average households that are currently being equipped with smart meters (energy measuring devices with computational and communication capabilities). These new technologies strengthen the vision of the future energy market, where any node of the power grid will buy, produce and sell energy to any other node in an open, peer-to-peer, democratic market. In this future scenario, energy exchange is more efficient, has higher availability guarantees and is cheaper.

To accomplish the exciting vision of a democratic energy market, we propose to investigate two crucial scientific and technological aspects. On the one hand, we shall perform a complex network analysis to identify the topological and structural needs of the power grid. On the other hand, we shall design, test, and showcase an innovative software layer (middleware) for smart meters. These two research initiatives are geared towards understanding and designing the infrastructure of the future peer-to-peer democratic energy market.

We propose a radical new view on power grid analysis and design by looking at the energy arena from a complex network/software point of view, rather than the traditional Electrical Engineering perspective. The research is strengthen by the collaboration with the energy companies active in the Netherlands.

We are offering a PhD position in accordance to this vision in one or more of the following areas: Complex network analysis of Power Grids, Simulation, Diagnostics and Diagnosability of failures, Peer-to-Peer architectures, Pervasive computing.


Area: Managing Complex Cloud Systems

Vacancies: 1 PhD student

Project description: Cloud computing is a novel paradigm where services and resources availability scales dynamically on demand. Due to reduced maintenance costs, more and more software solutions are provided as services within cloud systems, and first adoption of cloud concepts is proving successful, e.g., Google App Engine or Amazon S3. Still, there is a lot of space for improvement. For example, consider complex software systems, with sophisticated user interfaces, possibly built on top of legacy systems. And one notices that cloud computing does not provide necessary support. This is even more evident if we consider applications within highly dynamic environments with changing requirements on-the-fly, unpredictable failures, with limited or no control over execution. This is especially important in the domains where maintaining single version of the software system satisfying all potential customers is either unfeasible or cost-ineffective.

One of the possible solutions is to apply intentional aspects to the development and deployment of services in the cloud. Intentions represent goals and expectations of different parties involved in the cloud: software providers, customers, cloud infrastructure vendors, etc. Intentions are inherently declarative, leaving a complete freedom for the execution environment to decide how to execute the program, and how to achieve (or not to violate) given declarative definitions. Having intentions attached to individual services (in form of service level agreements), to software systems, to cloud infrastructure would result in better cloud solutions, giving more control to individual participants yet maintaining traditional cloud computing benefits.

We offer a PhD position in the area of service oriented architecture considering one or more of the following topics: Cloud computing infrastructure, Software as a service scenarios, Automatic composition of services, Domain-specific languages for cloud systems.

Required profile (for both positions):

  • You should have a M.Sc. or equivalent in computer science, engineering, mathematics, or a related discipline.
  • You are expected to have an excellent academic record (list of examination marks from your university degree) and be curious, creative and ambitious.
  • You should be able to write scientific articles and reports (proven by your graduation thesis or another comparable report) and be fluent in English.
  • Ability and desire to design, implement and manage information systems is a strong plus.
  • Knowledge in Distributed systems and Web services is considered a plus

Conditions of employment


The University of Groningen offers outstanding candidates a Ph.D. fellowship and an accompanying stipend. The fellowship is for a period of four years which should result in the Ph.D. defense of the candidate. The stipend starts from about 1400 euros (the candidate has to take care for tax - about 3% - and health insurance) per month in the first year and will be adjusted to general price movements once a year. After one year, the performance of the candidate will be evaluated to decide whether there is sufficient progress to expect a successful completion of the Ph.D. thesis within the remaining three years. A training program is part of the agreement to support the Ph.D. candidates in their professional and personal development as well as their career planning. You and your supervisor will make up a plan for the additional education and supervising that you specifically need. The University of Groningen strives to offer an inspiring environment for research providing generous technical and financial support in order to motivate young researchers. The positions are immediately available and applications should be sent by August 1st, 2009. The positions will remain open until suitable candidates are found.

How to apply


Applications for the position should include a Curriculum Vitae (name, address, degree(s), date, etc.) and the names and (email) addresses of at least two references. Please send your application indicating in the subject the code of the position(s) you apply for to Alexander Lazovik - Tel: +31 50 363 5172 - E-mail: a.lazovik@rug.nl.