Keep it up kids and chess will take you places! As well as the Elite Sports undergraduate scholarship that Monash has (for which chess players are eligible) there is now an opportunity to get a PhD in chess ratings!

Monash University is offering a PhD scholarship of $26,667 to work on a chess ratings project!

Rating and ranking sports players and teams using Minimum Message Length

Rating systems go back at least as far as Harkness (1949) and the better-known Elo (1961) system for rating chess players.  More recent attempts have been made to refine these systems in a variety of ways.  We refine the systems further using the Bayesian information-theoretic Minimum Message Length (MML) principle from statistics, machine learning, econometrics, inductive inference and “data mining” (Wallace and Boulton, Computer J, 1968) (Dowe, Handbook of Philos of Statistics, 2011). This includes dealing with the challenging Neyman-Scott-like situation where, for some players and teams, there are few games per player or few games between different groups of players. Our enhanced modelling will be for a range of games and sports – including advantages such as, e.g., first move (as in chess), home ground and location, surface (as in tennis), etc. We will apply this to rating and ranking individuals and teams. We also refine how quickly ratings can change depending upon the strength of the player.

Pay: 3-year PhD scholarship, Aus$26,667p.a. + scholarship top-up

The successful candidate will have an undergraduate degree and will be at least semi-literate in at least one of mathematics and information theory, or at least interested in both areas.
Some experience in computer programming in at least one programming language is highly desirable.

Some background: Chris Wallace published the first paper on Minimum Message Length (MML) in Wallace & Boulton (1968).  Wallace & Dowe (1999a) was once the Computer J (OUP)’s most downloaded article – and currently remains as Chris Wallace’s most cited co-authored work by a researcher still active in the area.  David Dowe co-authored the first papers on MML Bayesian nets which combine both discrete (multi-valued) and continuous-valued attributes.  Dowe has a forthcoming (2011) piece on MML to appear in the forthcoming Handbook of Philosophy of Statistics, Elsevier.

It is a requirement of Monash University (in coastal Melbourne, Australia) that students have at least a minimum proficiency in the English language in at least one of IELTS and/or TOEFL.

See for more information.

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Prospective students should direct their enquiries to David Dowe.

Assoc. Prof. David Dowe, Ph.D.; School of Comp. Sci & Softw. Eng.;
Clayton School of I.T.; Monash Univ.; Clayton; Vic 3168; Australia
Tel:+61 3 9905-5776