PhD Position in Machine Translation and Speech Understanding (starting 09/09)

The PORT-MEDIA (ANR CONTINT 2008-2011) is a cooperative project sponsored by the French National Research Agency, between the University of Avignon, the University of Grenoble, the University of Le Mans, CNRS at Nancy and ELRA (European Language Resources Association). PORT-MEDIA will address the multi-domain and multi-lingual robustness and portability of spoken language understanding systems. More specifically, the overall objectives of the project can be summarized as:
– robustness: integration/coupling of the automatic speech recognition component in the spoken language understanding process.
– portability across domains and languages: evaluation of the genericity and adaptability of the approaches implemented in the understanding systems, and development of new techniques inspired by machine translation approaches.
– representation: evaluation of new rich structures for high-level semantic knowledge representation.

The PhD thesis will focus on the multilingual portability of speech understanding systems. For example, the candidate will investigate techniques to fast adapt an understanding system from one language to another and creating low-cost resources with (semi) automatic methods, for instance by using automatic alignment techniques and lightly supervised translations. The main contribution will be to fill the gap between the techniques currently used in the statistical machine
translation and spoken language understanding fields.

The thesis will be co-supervised by Fabrice Lefèvre, Assistant Professor at LIA (University of Avignon) and Laurent Besacier, Assistant Professor at LIG (University of Grenoble). The candidate will spend 18 months at LIG then 18 months at LIA.

The salary of a PhD position is roughly 1,300€ net per month. Applicants should hold a strong university degree entitling them to start a doctorate (Masters/diploma or equivalent) in a relevant discipline (Computer Science, Human Language Technology, Machine Learning, etc). The applicants should be fluent in English. Competence in French is optional, though applicants will be encouraged to acquire this skill during training. All applicants should have very good programming skills.

For further information, please contact Fabrice Lefèvre (Fabrice.Lefevre at AND Laurent Besacier (Laurent.Besacier at