PhD position in Algebra: Building bridges between combinatorics and representation theory at VU Amsterdam

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • PhD position in Algebra: Building bridges between combinatorics and representation theory at VU Amsterdam
  • University Graduate
FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

The Department of Mathematics of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam welcomes applications for a fully-funded, 4-year PhD position in Algebra: Building bridges between combinatorics and representation theory. In this project you will work on combinatorial and representation theoretic aspects of cluster algebras and/or applications in physics under the supervision of Ilke Canakci.

The theory of cluster algebras is one of the most active research areas due to its varied applications and the intrinsic beauty of the theory. It has deep connections and applications to different disciplines such as representation theory, combinatorics, hyperbolic and symplectic geometry, topology, number theory and string theory. Cluster algebras are combinatorially defined algebras with strong symmetry properties. Much work on cluster algebras has centred around a) combinatorics arising from geometric models associated with cluster algebras and b) representation theory of algebras associated with quivers (i.e. directed graphs) which provides a setting to associate categorical models for cluster algebras. The interaction between these two approaches provided insights in both directions and, in particular, has connections to symplectic geometry and knot theory.

The successful candidate will undertake research on combinatorial and representation theoretic aspects of cluster algebras relating them, for instance, to applications arising in physics. However the precise focus of the project will be adapted to the interests and background of the successful candidate. 

The preferred starting date is 1 September 2020, or a mutually agreed date thereafter. 

Your duties
  • doing research towards writing a PhD thesis
  • teaching tasks (roughly 15% of your time), which typically consist of supervising exercise classes and correcting homework


  • a (prospective) MSc. degree in Mathematics (or an equivalent thereof) with excellent results
  • an interest in algebra and/or combinatorics 
  • good communication skills in English
  • prior knowledge on quiver representations is an advantage but not a requirement 

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organisation. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,325 (at the start) and a maximum €2,972 (in the fourth year). The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 0.8-1.0 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for further 3 years. Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalised benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. And to be a university where personal education and societal involvement play a leading role. Where people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together on innovations and on generating new knowledge. Our teaching and research embrace the whole spectrum of science – from the humanities, the social sciences and the pure sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,500 students. We employ more than 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible, located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

Diversity is one of our university’s core values. We are an inclusive community, and we believe that diversity and international activities enhance the quality of education and research. We are always looking for people who can enhance diversity on our campus thanks to their background and experience.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

The Department of Mathematics

The Department of Mathematics strives for excellence in research. The department balances pure mathematical research with mathematical research motivated by applications. Researchers in the department are on one hand active at a fundamental and theoretical level, and, on the other hand, work on applications with links to business, the sciences, and societal issues. The department has a strong international research staff with expertise in dynamical systems, geometry and algebra, as well as in stochastics (statistics, data analytics, probability). 


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button by 3 May 2020 and upload: a cover letter, a CV, a list of courses and grades at the MSc level, a (draft) MSc thesis if available, and the names and e-mail addresses of one or two references.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Ilke Canakci
Position: Assistant Professor of Mathematics

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