Why do I maintain this page?

At UiO, a PhD student chooses the advisor at the same time when he or she applies for a PhD program. Furthermore, the committee that decides upon the admission includes the future advisor in most cases. Finally, it is the responsibility of the advisor to find prospective students for specific PhD positions and to encourage them to pursue those positions.

All this means that there is a lot of preliminary interaction between would-be advisor and students. Much of it is really standard, which is why I am trying to answer questions on this page.

What information can be found here?

What can we offer to our PhD students and interns

Is UiO, Ifi, and ND a good place to study or do research at?

The University of Oslo is Norway's largest and oldest institution of higher education. Founded in 1811, today the University of Oslo has approx. 30,000 students and 4,600 employees. Four Nobel Prize winners and two Turing award recipients indicate the quality of the research at the University in general and at the Department of Informatics in particular.

According to some of the commonly considered University rankings for 2009, the Department of Informatics has been ranked as number 7 in Europe and number 49 in the world. In 2010, the department is moving to a new building, which is considered some of the most advanced academic buildings in the world.

Financially, PhD students and interns in Norway have higher scholarships and salaries than their counterparts in most academic institutions in Europe and North America. Even taking the higher cost of living in Norway into account, they are still better off. They also enjoy all social benefits available to residents and employees in Norway, and some of the best student housing standards in the world. Since UiO is quite a large University, life on campus involves more than 200 active student societies, sport clubs, and organizations.

Our ND group is quite international and diverse. Even when limiting the consideration to the last five years, ND members (faculty, postdoctoral associates, and PhD students) have been coming from over 10 countries. Here are some pictures: a workshop in the Tidal News project, a summer school that ND organized in 2009, social events at DisCoTeq that ND organized in 2008.

What do you emphasize as an advisor of graduate students?

Above all, quality of the thesis and future professional career. The students and researchers I had the priveledge to work with are now employed by the Max-Planck Institute, IBM Research, Microsoft, and Spotify, among other places. They might be contacted and asked for more detailed information. It makes me happy when they win awards for the best paper or demo, which happened several times.

Will I also gain international experience as part of my PhD program?

We put a strong emphasis on educating PhD students with a global research perspective in mind. Most our students take advantage of the opportunity to spend several months at recognized international research institutions abroad. They also participate in international summer schools and of course, conferences.

Is Norway/Oslo a good place to live at?

The country has been ranked by the UN as having the highest standard of living in the world. This is due to a combination of factors: a relatively high income to cost of living ratio, developed infrastructure and excellent public transportation system, social security and healthcare services, emphasis on clean environment, etc.

Thanks to its unique scenic beauty, Norway is one of the main destinations in the world for nature tourism and northern lights viewing. You can take a look at the mini-guide we provided for the summer school in 2009.

The metropolitan area of Oslo has a population of approximately 1,4 million of whom about 580,000 live in the municipality area. It is strikingly international: 25% of the population are immigrants who represent dozens of diverse ethnic groups. In my view, Oslo manages to combine the atmosphere of a big city (nice architecture, museums, excellent public transportation, events and happenings, developed service infrastructure, nightlife) with that of rural areas (lack of turmoil, lots of green areas, bucolic views, opportunities for nature-related activities, best air quality and tap water quality of all European capitals). To put things in perspective, the architecture does not rival that of Paris, museums do not exhibit as many art treasures as those in Italy, and the nightlife is not as lively as in Madrid but Oslo does have all of the above and blends it in a pleasant way. Here are some links: Oslo Opera House and Oslo Microbrewery.

It is in the north! Is it very cold?

People differ on what "cold" means. Seriously. For a person who lived all his life not far from the equator or in a subtropical climate (e.g., in the Mediterrenean region or California), most Europe and North America might be considered as "cold". In this sense, Oslo is cold. However, a person from Beijing, North America, and most of Europe (apart from the Mediterranean) will find the climate in Oslo surprisingly moderate: the average temperature is -3 degrees Celcius in January and 21 degrees in July. This is due to the North Atlantic Current that flows along the shores of Norway.

Do I need to learn Norwegian?

Our group is quite international and diverse. As previously mentioned, ND members (faculty, postdoctoral associates, and PhD students) have been coming from over 10 countries. We use English for research and communication.

In principle, it is possible to live in Norway without knowing a word in Norwegian. English is well spoken not only in the streets and shops of Oslo but in most remote places as well. Native English speakers visiting Norway usually say that they do not feel any inconvenience or discomfort. Foreign languages and communication is an important focus of school education in Norway and all in all, it works very well.

Of course, if you want to fully enjoy the Norwegian culture or stay in Norway for many years, learning Norwegian will be important for full integration in the society. Knowledge of Norwegian is also required for jobs in the industrial or service sector that involve interaction with people.

How can I learn more about potential topics?

For specific positions attached to a project, please read project description and project-related documents. It is generally a good idea to look at potential advisor's publications and see if there is an overlap with your interests and background.

I wish to do an internship with you.

We do not offer internship opportunities at the bachelor level so that you need to have at least BSc.

We may have internship opportunities for master and PhD students. Sometimes we announce open internship positions for specific projects. Otherwise, we may still be able to accommodate excellent candidates but we need to plan ahead and find the way to support it. It is better to apply not later than in January for an internship that starts in May-June.

I wish to do PhD under your supervision.

Our University and Faculty stipulates that eligible applicants should already have an MSc in Computer Science or equivalent. We do not offer a combined master+doctoral program.

For an announced funded PhD position

When we have a funded PhD position available, it is advertized on the advisor web pages, group web pages, department web pages, and elsewhere. The information published there is usually a good starting point and can serve the basis for further discussion between the applicant and prospective advisor.

The competition for funded positions is quite high. Typically, only 10-20 percent of the applicants are interviewed. The work of the admission committee is complicated by the fact that applicants are coming from all over the world and in many cases, committee members have not previously interacted with the applicant. Thus, the only way for the admission committee to recognize applicant's potential is through the application materials and references. In particular, the following questions are deemed important:

In absence of announcements about funded PhD positions

In absence of announcements about funded PhD positions, you are still welcome to inquire about opportunities. If a position is to be announced soon, you will be notified. Other possibilities may exist if you fulfill the following two requirements:

  1. You need to qualify for one of the scholarship programs at UiO. Either the UiO administration or the prospective advisor can give you further information about those. Alternatively, if you consider being a self-funded student, further options might be available for you.
  2. You need to find an advisor who will support your application for a scholarship program. If you want to do PhD with me, please consider my publications and see if they match your interests. If they do, the next step will be to read the relevant papers, initiate specific technical discussions, and show your proficiency with the subject and techniques used in the paper.