PhD Position in Analytical and Computational Approaches for Analysis and Control of Complex Dynamical Systems

Catholic University of Leuven Department of Computer Science


The successful applicant will belong to the NUMA section of the department of Computer Science of KU Leuven, one of the largest research groups in the area of computational and applied mathematics. NUMA develops methods and algorithms for large-scale and complex problems in science and engineering. Its research comprises the whole range from fundamental research (including exploration of novel approximation strategies, control desing techniques and numerical analysis) to applications in other scientific and engineering domains. The PhD projects fits within the focus areas on control and optimization, numerical linear algebra and uncertainty quantification.


The mathematical modeling of complex engineering and biological systems naturally leads to a decomposition into simpler subsystems. Modelling the dynamics of subsystems often leads to differential equations, while their interconnections give rise to algebraic equations. Furthermore, the fact that the transfer of material, energy and information (i.e. signal transmission) between subsystems is mostly not instantaneous, may be modelled by delay elements. All these model components can be integrated into one so-called Delay-Differential Algebraic Equation (DDAE) model. DDAE models are very flexible and promising for a systematic and automated modeling procedure, at the basis of simulation, prediction and control, yet there are still many open theoretical questions, mathematical and computational challenges.

The research program will be built around two pillars. The first pillar concerns investigating theoretical properties of DDAE models, developing  mathematical analysis methods (to assess, for example, the stability of the modelled system or its performance), perform uncertainty quantification (i.e., assessing the impact of modeling errors on the results of the analysis), and  to make the leap from analysis to the design of feedback controllers. Here, we assume that the modeled physical system can be actuated and that online measurements are available, which can then be used to alter the performance, robustness or resilience of the system in a desirable or optimal way.  

The second pillar specifically focuses on developing methodologies for analysis and control of periodic solutions. The time-periodicity may stem  from the linearization of a nonlinear autonomous systems around a periodic orbit, from a periodic excitation, as in applications in electrical power systems,  or from the application of novel periodic control strategies. Key in the methodology is the integration of analytical methods from control theory and computational methods for dynamical systems.  The design of the control law  will be mainly model based, but complementary data-driven design methods and implementations will also be explored.

The focus of the PhD project will be  on mathematical / algorithmic innovations and control theory, but a close link with engineering applications will be ensured throughout their execution, which enables a validation of the obtained results and algorithms and may inspire novel research questions. In this respect, the PhD project benefits from the unique position of the hosting NUMA section as a very large applied mathematics center operating within a Faculty of Engineering Science, and it is well integrated with the many collaborations and ongoing projects on both the methodological and application side.


The ideal candidate has a Master degree in mathematics (applied, computational mathematics) or a Master degree in Engineering (Control, Mechanical, Electrical, Mathematical Engineering).  Applicants whose mother tongue is not English, must present an official language test report.
Prerequisites are a good basis knowledge of linear algebra and differential equations, a strong interest in a mathematically oriented project,  enthusiasm and a critical mindset. Familiarity with control theory and good programming skills are not required but could be an advantage.


We offer:
  • A fully funded PhD  positions for four years at the NUMA section of KU Leuven,  a hub for interdisciplinary research in the fields of Computational Mathematics and Systems & Control. 
  • A  competitive salary,  social and medical insurance
  • Additional benefits such as a KU Leuven bike, access to university sport facilities,  priority access to the university daycare centers.
  • Flexible working hours and home office arrangements
  • A diverse and multi-disciplinary research team
  • Collaborations with international research labs and experts
  • Support for professional travel (research visits, participation to conferences)
  • Support for professional career development (e.g., a large variety of technical and transferable skill courses offered by the Arenberg Doctoral School)
KU Leuven is one of the top 50 universities in the world (top 10 in Europe) according to the Times Higher Education ranking.  Since 2016,  KU Leuven has headed the Reuters list of Europe's most innovative universities. It offers an exciting multi-disciplinary research environment, many opportunities for collaboration, and a broad range of training courses.. 

Located in Belgium, at the heart of Europe, 25 minutes by train from Brussels and less than 3 hours from cities like Paris, London, Köln or Amsterdam, Leuven is a cultural city, whose rich history is tightly connected with the one of the university, founded in 1425. The city is characterized by a vibrant international student lifestyle.  

The NUMA section is hosted by the Department of Computer Science, located on the Heverlee Campus. The campus is spread over a beautiful park,  two kilometers from the city center and easily accessible by  bike and public transport.


Submit your application via the online application tool TODO, including
1) a letter of motivation with a statement of skills and research interests,
2) a curriculum vitae,
3) university diploma copies and transcripts, and
4) names and contact information of 2 references.
Applications will be considered as soon as they are received, and the opening will be closed as soon as a suitable candidate has been hired.  The formal deadline is June 7, 2022.
There is flexibility with respect to the starting date, but the preference is  given to autumn 2022.

For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Wim Michiels, tel.: +32 16 32 70 64, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than June 07, 2022 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: June 7, 2022
  • Tags: Ingenieurswetenschappen
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