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Job Description

“Fast and matrix-free optimization algorithms for spatiotemporal audio acquisition and reproduction and room inference”

A PhD research position is available in the KU Leuven Electrical Engineering Department (ESAT), in the frame of the ERC project “The Spatial Dynamics of Room Acoustics (SONORA)” coordinated by Prof. Toon van Waterschoot. The PhD student will be fully embedded in the ERC team, and will carry out fundamental research in the interdisciplinary field of signal processing, room acoustics, and numerical optimization. The research will be executed in an international team of audio engineering researchers at the e-Media Lab and the Stadius Centre for Dynamical Systems, Signal Processing and Data Analytics of KU Leuven, and will involve several research visits to internationally renowned research labs in Europe. Initially a one-year position is offered, however it is anticipated that the position will be extended to a total of four years, which is the standard duration of a PhD research project at KU Leuven.

The SONORA project aims to increase the general understanding of how complex sound scenes are impacted by the spatial dynamics of room acoustics. This knowledge is crucial in the design of signal processing algorithms for audio acquisition and reproduction problems in real-life situations, where moving sound sources and observers interact with room acoustics in a complicated manner.
A major part of the project will be devoted to the development of novel room acoustics models and to the unification of existing models. The room acoustics models developed in this project will be data-driven models with a physically motivated structure, and are expected to fill the existing gap between geometric and wave-based models. This will be achieved by formulating existing and novel models in a dictionary-based mathematical framework and introducing a new concept coined as the equivalent boundary model, aimed at relaxing the prior knowledge required on the physical room boundary.
A second part of the project will focus on the development of a protocol for measuring spatiotemporal sound fields. This protocol will be rooted in a novel sound field sampling theory which exploits the spatial sparsity of sound sources by invoking the compressed sensing paradigm.
Thirdly, novel signal processing algorithms capable of handling spatiotemporal sound fields will be designed. By employing recent advances in large-scale optimization and multidimensional scaling, fast and matrix-free algorithms will be obtained that do not require prior knowledge of the sound scene geometry.
The SONORA research results are anticipated to have a notable impact in various audio acquisition and reproduction problems, including acoustic signal enhancement, audio analysis, room inference, virtual acoustics, and spatial audio reproduction. These problems have many applications in speech, audio, and hearing technology, hence a significant benefit for industry and for technology end users is expected in the long run.

The e-Media Lab and the Stadius Centre are part of the Electrical Engineering (ESAT) Department at KU Leuven and host over 100 researchers. The audio engineering group headed by Prof. Toon van Waterschoot is a subgroup affiliated to both labs, in which signal processing research is carried out in the context of audio, speech, music, and acoustics applications. The audio engineering group currently hosts about 10 international PhD and postdoc researchers and participates in several nationally and internationally funded research projects, ranging from fundamental research to industry-funded applied research.

Audio engineering group:
e-Media Lab:
Stadius Centre:

The PhD researcher will
- carry out fundamental research on optimization-driven acoustic signal processing, more specifically on the design of fast and matrix-free optimization algorithms for spatiotemporal audio acquisition and reproduction and room inference;
- monitor the work plan of her/his individual research project and make sure that milestones are achieved and deliverables are finalized in a timely manner;
- actively participate in research meetings with the other ERC team members;
- take part in the research meetings, seminars, etc. at the e-Media Lab and the Stadius Centre;
- enroll in a doctoral training program at the Arenberg Doctoral School, and adhere to the doctoral school's coursework requirements for PhD researchers;
- assist in the supervision of Master thesis students;
- perform a limited amount of teaching activities (max. 3h per week).

- Candidates must hold a Master degree in Electrical Engineering (or equivalent), have a solid mathematical background (e.g. in matrix algebra and optimization) and have taken specialized courses in at least one of the following disciplines: digital signal processing, acoustics, numerical optimization.
- Research experience (e.g. through Master thesis work or research internships) in acoustic signal processing and/or numerical optimization is considered a strong asset.
- Experience with scientific computing in Matlab, Python, or Julia is required.
- Excellent proficiency in the English language is required, as well as good communication skills, both oral and written.

- A high-level and exciting international research environment.
- A strong involvement in an ERC research project with high international visibility.
- A PhD title from one of Europe's top universities (after approximately 4 years of successful research).
- A thorough scientific education in the frame of a doctoral training program.
- A competitive salary or tax-free PhD grant.
- The possibility to participate in local as well as international courses, workshops and conferences.
- The possibility to perform research visits to internationally renowned research labs in Europe.
- A one-year position with the possibility of extension for a second, third, and fourth year.

For more information please contact Prof. Toon van Waterschoot <>.

Applications are to be submitted no later than February 4, 2018, via the online application tool (see link). Please submit:
1) a motivation letter with a statement of skills and research interests (max. 1 page)
2) a curriculum vitae, including transcripts and possibly GRE/TOEFL results
3) the names and contact information of 1-2 references

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Job Information

email redacted
Related URL
KU Leuven
Topic Category
Oude Markt 13, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
Closing Date
Feb. 4, 2018