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PhD Studentship - Commonsense Reasoning in Conversational AI

Bournemouth University - Faculty of Media & Communication

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bournemouth
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £15,450 maintenance grant per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 3rd September 2021
Closes: 31st October 2021

Funding amount: £15,450 maintenance grant per annum

Lead Supervisor name: Professor Wen Tang

This project will be part of BU Doctoral Training Centre - Centre for Digital Entertainment (CDE).

The Intelligent Virtual Personal Assistant consists of three landmark components that enable Intel-PA to perform human-like communications with real humans. These are: sensible conversations; appropriate body gestures and facial expressions; and ability to detect the motion and emotions of the human user. By performing such human-like functions, Intel-PA will be able to play a huge role in assisting the mankind in countless applications, such as healthcare, training, education, marketing and decision making, to name but a few.

However, most existing conversational AIs only work on context information with pre-defined actions and cannot understand the user intents and reactions. Commonsense reasoning in conversational AI is believed to be the key to solve this problem. Bringing commonsense into Conversational AI understanding, inference and generation is considered to be the next breakthrough in Intelligent Virtual Personal Assistant.

This research project aims to bring an in-depth understanding of commonsense reasoning, investigate how commonsense can help build conversational AI with natural responses to different user’s intent, and model aspects of commonsense inference via NPL and deep learning framework. The project will try to apply commonsense inference for domain applications such as healthcare, education and marketing. The experiment will include creating conversational AI with a range of commonsense knowledge to interact with real humans.

This project will pursue three mutually supportive research and development paths: 1) advancing the theoretical frontiers of common sense reasoning in conversational AI; 2) building user satisfaction modules to improve engagement via evaluation; 3) developing and producing practical applications.

Find out more about the Centre for Digital Entertainment.

What does the funded studentship include?

Funded candidates will receive a maintenance grant of £15,450 per annum (unless otherwise specified), to cover their living expenses and have their fees waived for 48 months. In addition, research costs, including field work and conference attendance, will be met.

Funded Studentships are open to both UK/EU and International students unless otherwise specified.

Eligibility criteria

Candidates for a PhD Studentship should demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 4 years and must demonstrate:

  • Outstanding academic potential as measured normally by either a 1st class honours degree (or equivalent Grade Point Average (GPA) or a Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent
  • An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 6.0 in each component, or equivalent) for candidates for whom English is not their first language and this must be evidenced at point of application.

Additional criteria:

The applicant should have experience of computer science, machine learning system, Natural Language Processing.

Closing date: The first call for applications will close on 31st October 2021.

For further information on how to apply click the ‘Apply’ button below or email

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