Bart Bogaerts

Dr. Bart Bogaerts

Assistant Professor

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I'm hiring! There are currently two open PhD positions in my group Apply now!

PhD Position in Computer Science: Explainable Constraint Solving and Optimisation

The AI Lab of the Vrije Universiteit Brussels invites applications for a PhD position in computer science. This position focuses on methods for combinatorial search and optimization, and specifically on how to explain, in a human-understandable way, the derivations such a system makes.

Job description

The AI Lab of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel offers a strong research environment spanning a wide range of research topics such as reinforcement learning, game theory, natural language processing, evolution of speech, computational creativity, and knowledge representation and reasoning.

The PhD student will join the research group of Bart Bogaerts, whose research focuses on various aspects of knowledge representation and reasoning. The student will work on the FRESCO project, developing explanation mechanisms for combiantorial search or opitimization problems (for instance in the context of sat solving, constraint solving, pseudo-boolean solving, ...). The goal of this project is to come up with a framework that allows such solvers not just to find good solutions quickly, but also to explain to their users why this is a good solution, why it is the only solution, or why no solutions exist. Some preliminary work in this direction can be found in this paper and is summarized in this presentation. A particular long-term interest is the question how these explanations can be used to improve interactive configuration tools.

The research will be performed in collaboration with the DTAI research team of the KU Leuven, in particular with Tias Guns.


We offer employment as a full-time doctoral researcher.

As an employee of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel you will work in a dynamic, diverse and multilingual environment. Our green campus is located in the centre of Brussels, the lively capital of Belgium and Europe. Depending on your experience and academic merits you will receive a salary according to the official pay scales. Hospitalisation insurance and free use of public transport for travel to and from work are standard employment benefits. We have extensive sporting facilities which are at your disposal and a nursery is within walking distance. More information is available at the VUB job website.

Contract: full-time research grant for one year, renewable on an annual basis for a maximum of four years. Extension of the contract is subject to the agreement of the doctoral committee. Remuneration is at the level of a full-time research assistant at a Flemish university (i.e. approximately € 2.000 net per month) depending on personal situation, and includes contributions for social security.

In principle, the position opens up starting from the first of january, 2021, but the starting date is flexible (preferrably at the latest October 2021).


To be eligible to apply for this position, applicants need to have or be close to obtaining an MSc degree. A suitable background is, for instance, a degree in computer science, or in mathematics.

The successful candidate is expected to have a strong background and passionate interest in computer science and in particular combinatorial search. Problem solving skills and creativity are a must. Practical programming skills are also important.

Applicants must be strongly motivated for doctoral studies; should possess the ability to work independently and perform critical analysis, and also have good levels of cooperative and communicative abilities. They must also have a very good command of English in writing and speaking to be able to participate in international collaborations and to publish and present research results in international conferences and journals.

How to apply

The PhD candidate will be selected on the basis of their expertise, work experience, and qualifications. Use this form to apply. There is no application deadline. Applications will be evaluated continuously and the position will be filled as soon as a good candidate is found. When applying, please include

  • A one-page motivation letter explaining the candidate’s interest in pursuing a PhD on the chosen topic
  • curriculum vitae listing all academic qualifications, relevant research experience and previous publications

Further information

General information on doing a PhD in Brussels can be found at Information on the AI Lab can be found at

For any inquiries with respect to the scientific part, please contact
Bart Bogaerts, Assistant Professor
+32 2 629 37 06