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PhD Studentship - Human-Centred Artificial Intelligence for Energy Management

Agents, Interactions & Complexity

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Monday 31 August 2020
Reference:  1276820FP

Supervisory Team:    Enrico Gerding, Sebastian Stein, Jameson Brouwer

Project description

The smart grid enables flexible demand and controlling devices based on fluctuating prices, which can result in savings for individuals and help balance the grid, thereby reducing carbon emissions. This is especially relevant in cases of energy storage devices such as batteries and electric vehicles, and heating and cooling where there is such flexibility. A challenge is optimising the control of devices, and the charging and possibly discharging of batteries. This requires predicting future prices and demand, and optimising decisions over a given period based on these predictions. There is already extensive literature that addresses some of these challenges in areas such as multi-agent systems, operations research and machine learning. 

A largely open problem, however, is engaging with the user to elicit additional information about their demand, and how to present information about savings made. The additional information will enable more accurate predictions, while the information about savings can be used as nudges to change the behaviour to be more economic. In addition, for users to engage, the system should explain the decisions made by the algorithm in a way that can be understood by non-experts. 

To this end, the PhD project will combine optimisation, machine learning, human-computer interaction, as well as techniques from behavioural economics and game theory. Part of the project will involve building a proof of concept through a mobile application and test it with real users. Therefore, good programming skills are essential.

Your primary supervisors will be Dr Enrico Gerding and Dr Sebastian Stein, who are leaders in the field of intelligent agents and its application to energy management. In addition, the PhD project is co-funded and co-supervised by EKM Metering, a smart metering company based in California, U.S. During your PhD, you will be based in the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton, and meetings with EKM Metering will be done largely via conference calls.  

Equality, diversity and Inclusion is central to the ethos in ECS. We particularly encourage women, Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME), LGBT and disabled applicants to apply for this position.  

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Enrico Gerding, Agents, Interaction and Complexity Research Group, Email:

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition fees for EU/UK students plus for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,285 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online, please select the academic session 2020-21 “PhD Computer Science (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Enrico Gerding under the proposed supervisor.

Applications should include

Research Proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: 

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