[Jobs] Fully funded PhD studentship in Lifelong Robot Learning at the University of Southampton, UK

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Jun 8, 2024, 12:10:43 AMJun 8
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Dear colleagues,

We're hiring a fully funded PhD student to explore Large Language Models in lifelong robot learning at the University of Southampton.

# Project title:

Skill Acquisition in Lifelong Robot Learning with Large Language Models

# About the PhD project:

The integration of Large Language Models (LLMs) into robot learning has recently demonstrated remarkable success. It became possible to ground LLMs in the physical context and solve long-horizon robotic tasks efficiently by querying LLMs to generate a sequence of natural language commands corresponding to pretrained skills that accomplish a given task. LLMs have also enabled few-shot adaptation to novel tools by generating task-agnostic tool descriptions for language-conditioned learning of manipulation skills.

Long-horizon task learning and few-shot adaptation, supported by LLMs, are essential to lifelong robot learning. However, the current utilization of LLMs remains incompatible with the continual learning setting, wherein tasks are sequentially presented to the robot without a predefined task distribution. Moreover, the robot is expected to retain knowledge of previous tasks when learning new ones.

This project aims to explore how LLMs can be harnessed to continuously acquire new skills to solve novel tasks as opposed to mastering a predefined and fixed set of tasks. In particular, methods for incrementally learning skill representations jointly from textual descriptions and spatio-temporal information of action sequences will be developed and evaluated on learning visuomotor robotic tasks in a household environment.

You will join the School of Electronics and Computer Science which is ranked 1st in the UK for Electrical and Electronic Engineering (Guardian University Guide 2022) within the University of Southampton which is ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide. The successful candidate must have a strong background in machine learning. Prior knowledge of reinforcement learning, robotics and training and finetuning LLMs is highly desirable.

# Funding available for: 

- UK, EU and Horizon Europe Associated Countries
- For exceptional overseas candidates, the fee difference between UK and overseas fees may be covered through other funding schemes, such as https://www.southampton.ac.uk/doctoral-college/presidential-bursaries.page

# How to apply:

Please send your pre-application package including CV, transcripts, sample publications (if any), two references and cover letter expressing your research vision and interest in the position to burhan...@soton.ac.uk

# Closing date:

Applications will be considered in the order that they are received. The position will be considered filled when a suitable candidate has been identified.

Best regards, 

Muhammad Burhan Hafez

Muhammad Burhan Hafez, Ph.D.
New Frontiers Fellow (Lecturer)
School of Electronics & Computer Science
University of Southampton
Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
E-mail: burhan...@soton.ac.uk


Jun 17, 2024, 12:12:09 AMJun 17
to Reinforcement Learning Mailing List

Rafael Celente

Jun 29, 2024, 1:42:48 PMJun 29
to rl-...@googlegroups.com
Dear Dr. Hafez,

Thank you for the information about this opportunity. As someone actively working on reinforcement learning for learning humanoid robot behavior and with active projects on LLM architectures, this post has really piqued my interest, and I'd love to apply for it.

However, I'm still finishing up my internship on my double-degree in France, and due to the constraints for graduation in my school of origin, I will only actually have my Masters at the end of December. Therefore, I'd only be able to start in January at the earliest.

Given this timeline, would you still recommend applying or are you looking for someone that could start as soon as possible?

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Best regards,
Rafael Celente

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