IRIF (CNRS and Université Paris Cité), Paris, France, is seeking excellent candidates for Ph.D. fellowships in all areas of Foundations of Computer Science. Every year, about 20 new Ph.D. students start their doctoral studies at IRIF.

IRIF (Institute for Research in Foundations of Computer Science) is a joint laboratory of the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) and Université Paris Cité. Currently, it hosts about 90 permanent faculty members, 40 non-permanent full-time researchers, and 50 Ph.D. students.

The research conducted at IRIF is based on the study and understanding of the foundations of all areas of computer science. Such research work relies on mathematical concepts developed and studied within it, but it also contributes directly to mathematics. Typical areas include but are not limited to: algorithms, their design and analysis, automata theory and applications, combinatorics, complex systems, complexity, computational formalisms, distributed computation, foundations of programming languages, interactive proof assistants, graph theory and its algorithms, logic, networks, quantum computing, software development, systems modeling and verification. For further information about IRIF please see our presentation of IRIF.

Description of PhD studies at IRIF

In France, Ph.D. studies are typically 3 years long and can be extended in some cases to 4 years. Ph.D. fellowships are full-time research contracts with some optional additional activities such as teaching. The starting date of the positions is usually in October 1st, but this may sometimes vary. All IRIF Ph.D. students must register at Paris Doctoral School of Mathematical Sciences (ED386).

Many Ph.D. studies starting at IRIF are the continuation of master programs, such as the LMFI or the MPRI, but this is not mandatory and IRIF regularly welcomes Ph.D. students joining after a master in another French or foreign university.

IRIF also participates to two Graduate Schools of Université Paris Cité: Mathematical Sciences and Quantum Technologies.

Funding Ph.D. studies at IRIF can be obtained by applying to a scholarship through IRIF and its related partners (such as IRIF research grants, Université Paris Cité, regional programs, industrial partnerships …) or by applying to another institution independent from IRIF (such as his/her current institution, campus France, …).

In addition, Ph.D. students can be teaching assistants during their studies. More information (in french).

How to apply

It is advised to contact IRIF as soon as possible in order not to miss a possible call (see possible funding below).

Ideally, the contact should be the researcher you would like to work with. It can also be the head of the thematic group or head of the pole corresponding to your scientific interests (see the presentation of IRIF). Please avoid multiplying the contacts (alternatively, contact all concerned persons with a single e-mail so as they are aware of this).

Independently, there is also the possibility to directly apply to one or more specific fellowships funded by research grants. The list can be found below; it is not exhaustive and might be updated at any moment.

In all cases, the candidate should join a CV, and is advised to give as much information as possible (such as transcripts of her/his marks for the bachelor and master program).

Possible fundings & topics

The Ph.D. fundings at IRIF are financed either by IRIF research grants, or by joint applications of IRIF members and the candidate to outside funding agencies with which IRIF is affiliated.

Generic fundings

There are several possibilities of fundings, and the candidate should contact IRIF for guidance.

IRIF depends on the graduate school ED 386 - École doctorale de Sciences Mathématiques de Paris Centre. Several scholarships are allocated directly from that school every year. IRIF is also eligible to several funding programs from its partners, which allow the recipients to conduct doctoral research at IRIF among other possibilities. Below are listed the most relevant programs for IRIF in 2023:

An application through Campus France is also possible for individual fellowships.

Specific topics

The following list describes potential Ph.D. topics at IRIF, some of them come with a dedicated scholarships. Otherwise the candidate will have to apply with her/his potential advisor to one of the generic fundings. This list is subject to be updated at any time.
To add an opening, please contact

Beyond Worst-case complexity

In many situations, algorithms work on very specific data distribution. For example, social graphs follow a power law degree distribution and some very simple algorithms work well on these distributions. Which hard problems remain hard or become easy in this context? It is the main question asked for approximate algorithms, which include Property testing for decision problems, search problems, optimization and counting problems.
Funding: Apply to generic openings. Contact : Michel de Rougemont

Fast algorithms for combinatorial optimization and machine learning

The goal of this project is to develop fast and practical solutions for fundamental algorithmic problems. This involves designing faster algorithms for classical problems in combinatorial optimization (involving graphs, matchings, submodular functions, matroids, etc.), and developing new theory relevant to modern machine learning (with a focus on deep learning). The mathematical toolkit is based on modern techniques from continuous optimization, and interferes with other interesting theory from convex geometry, probability and numerical linear algebra.
Funding: Apply to generic openings. Contact: Adrian Vladu

Quantum algorithms

The Algorithms & Complexity group at IRIF (CNRS and Université de Paris Cité) in Paris, France, is offering multiple PhD positions for 3 years to work on the theory of quantum computing. Particular emphasis is on the study of quantum algorithms for optimization, statistics and machine learning. You will work under the supervision of Simon Apers, and be co-supervised by one of the other permanent members (Iordanis Kerenidis, Sophie Laplante, Frédéric Magniez). Starting dates are aimed around October 2022, but this is flexible.
Funding: Internal grants. Contact Simon Apers.

Computational varieties

We aim to pursue the study of the Lambda Calculus through the lens of Universal Algebra, by dissecting the algebraic structure of lambda-theories. Once suitable structure is found, new results in both fields are at hand, as witnessed by recent work on n-dimensional Boolean algebras and clone algebras.
Funding: Apply to generic openings. Contact: Antonio Bucciarelli

Principles of programming languages for data science

In the last few years a new research is flourishing at the interface between the programming languages and the data science communities. The starting point is the understanding that core objects of data science such as complex neural networks, bayesian inference or optimization algorithms may in fact be expressed more synthetically and modularly by using higher-order and functional programming primitives. Our general goal is to develop and to apply to this new setting tools based on logic and lambda-calculus, such as type systems, semantics, logical relations, linear logic to improve the performance and certification of these objects.
Funding: Apply to generic openings. Contact : Michele Pagani.