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6 Positions for Early-Stage-Researchers H2020-MSCA-EID "REAL-time monitoring and mitigation of nonlinear effects in optical NETworks"

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    Aston University
    EngineeringCommunication engineering
    TechnologyInternet technology
    TechnologyTelecommunications technology
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    30/06/2019 23:00 - Europe/London
    Multiple locations, see work locations below.
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions


The European Industrial Doctorate (EID) Training Network REAL-NET  "REAL-time monitoring and mitigation of nonlinear effects in optical NETworks" announces 6 positions for Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs), including registeration for a doctoral degree. REAL-NET is a European Industrial Doctorate (EID) consortium of high profile Partners in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal and Germany including academic partners Aston University (Birmingham, UK), Telecom ParisTech (Paris, France) and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain), as well as industrial partners Infinera/Coriant (Germany and Portugal) and Orange (France). In common with all EIDs,  ESRs will spend 18 month in total in the industrial sector. REAL-NET ESRs will have access to state-of-the-art equipment and a unique combination of knowledge and training provided by the complementary expertise of the academic and industrial partners. They will be trained to develop and implement novel machine learning-based processing methods to communication networks.

REAL-NET description:

The exponential surge in the global data traffic driven by the skyrocketing proliferation of different bandwidth-hungry on-line services and various broadband services, brings about the escalating pressure on the speed (capacity) and quality of transmission (OSNR, BER) characteristics of optical communication systems. It is well recognized that rapidly increasing data rates in the core fibre communication systems are quickly approaching the limits of current transmission technologies. It is widely accepted that the nonlinear transmission effects in optical fibre represent now a major limiting factor in modern fibre-optic communication systems. Nonlinear properties make optical fibre channels considerably different from wireless and other traditional linear communications channels. There is a clear need for development of radically different methods for coding, transmission, and (pre & post) processing of information to mitigate nonlinearities and to estimate important network parameters. The training of a new generation of engineers with expertise in optical communications, nonlinear science methods, digital signal processing (DSP), and design of implementable algorithms is of high importance.

From the industry perspectives, design of practical and implementable processing algorithms requires knowledge of ASICs and real world conditions and restrictions. The multi-national & multi-interdisciplinary REAL-NET project provides timely doctoral training for PhD students through industry, over relevant research in the fast growing area of high practical relevance. REAL-NET involves leading EU university, a global operator and one of the most innovative vendor.

This will lead to development of novel practically implementable disruptive techniques for fibre-optic communications. More information on the project can be found here: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/217810_en.html

Trainig and Secondments: REAL-NET aims to bring this exciting new approach into commercial application with the help of its world leading industry partners, Infinera/Coriant and Orange, where successful applicants will spent 18 months of their appointment.

The positions are for 36 months and expected to begin no later than the summer of 2019 (subject to negotiation). All positions will remain open until suitable candidates have been found. Applicants may register their interest for more than one position and agree to have their details shared within the REAL-NET consortium. The EID REAL-NET project offers 6 Individual Research Projects:

ESR1 project

Title: Novel digital signal processing techniques for nonlinear fibre systems.

Overview: This project aims to develop numerical models and implementable nonlinearity mitigation techniques for the advanced fibre-optic systems and to gain an extra-high spectral efficiency employing novel coding and digital signal processing techniques. ESR1 will develop a discrete-time channel model and use it to optimize WDM transmission systems with optimal coding/modulation and detection/processing techniques. To achieve this goal, the new advanced synthesis and detection algorithms will be developed. The new techniques and system designs will be validated and investigated experimentally in collaboration with Coriant Germany and Orange. The ESR1 will collaborate with TPT team one channel models and perturbative approaches and will be mentored by the COR G (A. Napoli) and Orange (E. Pincemin) on how to apply developed methods to commercial systems.

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Aston University

Main supervisor(s): S.K. Turitsyn s.k.turitsyn@aston.ac.uk ; M. Sorokina m.sorokina@aston.ac.uk (both Aston University)

18 month Industrial Secondment: Yes (12 months Germany + 6 months France)


ESR2 project

Title: Machine learning techniques for nonlinearity mitigation

Overview: The goal of this project is to employ machine learning to mitigate nonlinear impairments in multi-user optical fibre systems. In the first phase of the project, Existing numerical algorithms using machine learning are mostly suitable for single-user channels, while SINO is the first machine learning algorithm applied in SDM systems. It can be generalized and adapted to multi-user channels. In the second phase of the project, ESR implements these newly found algorithms in computer, develops MATLAB software, and comprehensively tests the proposed algorithms for various input signals and parameters. In the third phase of the project, ESR2 carries out simulations of spectral efficiency and estimates data rates that can be achieved using WDM and SDM in a network environment. The algorithms are next applied in realistic experiments and the bit error rate is measured and optimized for various signal and system parameters. The simulated and experimental per-user bit error rates are compared with each other, as well as with bit error rate in single-user channels. The new techniques and system designs will be validated and investigated experimentally in collaboration with Coriant Germany and Orange. The ESR2 will be mentored by the COR G (A. Napoli) and Orange (E. Pincemin) on how to apply machine learning techniques in commercial systems.

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Aston University

Main supervisor(s):  S.K. Turitsyn s.k.turitsyn@aston.ac.uk ; M. Sorokina m.sorokina@aston.ac.uk (both Aston University)

18 month Industrial Secondment: Yes (12 months Germany + 6 months France)


ESR3 project

Title: Low-complexity real-time implementation of the back-propagation based on the SSFM and Volterra series

Overview: The objective of this project is to explore the split-step Fourier method and Volterra series for real-time low-complexity nonlinearity mitigation in commercial products. There is already substantial literature on back-propagation (and its variants) using the SSFM and perturbation schemes, however, to the best of our knowledge, no commercially viable product implementing the DBP exists as of today. In this project, firstly, we will explore the simplified back-propagation, proposed by the industry partner at Coriant G. The number of steps per span can be as low as 3—5 in this scheme. Secondly, we will investigate the simplified Volterra series approach proposed by the beneficiary at TPT. The goal is to optimize and lower the complexity and power consumption of the Volterra approach as much as possible. Finally, these two equalizers will be optimized using machine learning tools and implemented in the lab. In this project, ESRs will learn about physics of fibre, nonlinear Schrödinger systems, SSFM, perturbation methods, weak wave turbulence, complexity and power consumption of the algorithms, machine learning and complex lab experiments.The new techniques and system designs will be validated and investigated experimentally in collaboration with Coriant Germany. The ESR3 will be co-mentored by S. K. Turitsyn (Aston) and A. Napoli (Coriant Germany).

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Telecom ParisTech

Main supervisor: M. Yousefi yousefi@telecom-paristech.fr   (Telecom ParisTech)

18 month Industrial Secondment: Yes (12 months Germany)

Additional Academic Secondments: Yes (3 months UK)


ESR4 project

Title: Low-complexity real-time successive interference cancellation

Overview: The objective of this project is extend and improve the backpropagation methods developed in the previous project for broad-band and dual polarization systems. Due to hardware limitations and complexity, digital back-propagation is applied to a limited bandwidth at the receiver and often separately for each signal polarization (because the local differential group delay (DGD) is generally unknown at the receiver). Approaches such as INIC (see WP 1) extend the basic back-propagation methods, in order to cancel the interference impact of one polarization, or one frequency band, on another. The ESR 4 will optimize and lower the complexity and power consumption of the INIC, as well as validate this concept in experiments. In this project, the ESRs will learn about the physics of fiber, Manakov-based PMD systems, SSFM, perturbation methods, complexity and power consumption of the algorithms, successive interference cancellation, machine learning and complex lab experiments.

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Telecom ParisTech

Main supervisor: Y. Jaouen yves.jaouen@telecom-paristech.fr  (Telecom ParisTech)

18 month Industrial Secondment: Yes (12 months Germany)

Additional Academic Secondments: Yes (3 months UK)


ESR5 project

Title: Network applications of the REAL-NET technology

Overview: The objective of this project is to develop techniques that can infer the impact of BER degradation on upper network layers and to develop planning algorithms that exploit them to improve the network performance and accelerate failure identification. ESR5 will progress on advanced modelling of photonics components, sub-systems and systems (cross-activity). Another important objective of the ESR5 project is to ensure smooth transition of innovation to industry through direct involvement of stakeholders in all elements of the chain from academic institutes and research centres to companies.

The new techniques and system designs will be validated and investigated experimentally in collaboration with Coriant Portugal. The ESR5 will be co-mentored by J. Pedro (Coriant Portugal).

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

Main supervisor: L. Velasco lvelasco@ac.upc.edu  (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya)

18 month Industrial Secondment: Yes (12 months Portugal)


ESR6 project

Title: Nonlinearity mitigation methods in optical networks environment

Overview: The objective of this project is to explore methods for nonlinearity mitigation in network scenarios. These are multi-user systems with several transmitter (TX) and receiver (RX) pairs sharing the same fibre spans. Research on the nonlinearity mitigation using the SSFM or perturbation methods is mostly concerned with point-to-point links. Network environments bring a set of new problems, so that the methods obtained in other parts of this proposal should be accordingly adapted. For example, in heterogeneous optical fibre networks the length of the fibre may not be the same in all parts of the network. This creates different signal-noise interactions in each part of the network after back-propagation. The topology of the network, the number of the ROADMs, as well as the distance profiles may also be unknown. Moreover, optical networks, and as a result the corresponding signal processing, are required to be flexible for future virtualization. ESR6 will identify all parameters that cannot be estimated in network scenarios, and will study partial nonlinearity equalization without the full knowledge of the parameters, and to examine the flexibility of the SSFM and Volterra series for network virtualization. The second goal of this project is to devise cooperative strategies in combating the fibre nonlinearity. The greedy approach (which can be obtained from the previous projects) will be used as a benchmark for progress. Finally, the ESRs will devise simple experiments (e.g., with two TX-RX pairs) to validate the proposed algorithms in the lab. In this project, ESR6 will learn about network architectures in optical systems, network resources and objectives, fleixible optical networks, SSFM and perturbation methods for nonlinearity modelling, cooperative optical communication and multi-user information theory. The ESR6 will be co-mentored by A. Napoli (Coriant Germany).

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

Main supervisor: L. Velasco lvelasco@ac.upc.edu (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya)

18 month Industrial Secondment: Yes (12 months Germany + 6 months France)

Additional Academic Secondments: Yes (3 months France)

More Information


  • Salary:

The successful candidates will be employed on a full-time basis with a highly competitive salary in accordance with the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) rules and the personal circumstances of the applicant. The successful candidate will receive a financial package consisting of MSCA living allowance and mobility allowance. Eligible applicants with a family will also receive an additional family allowance according to the rules of the MSCA. The exact (net) salary will be confirmed upon appointment and will depend on a Host Institution's local tax regulations.

REAL-NET Consortium partners will also advertise the ESR positions individually on their institutional websites, national portals, as well as on the EURAXESS platform. These local/individual advertisements will have further details regarding the scientific investigations and salaries.

  • Family-friendly working conditions

Female applicants and applicants wishing to return to research after a period of absence are especially encouraged to apply. Local adverts will detail family-friendly working conditions such as child care facilities if available.

  • Supervision

REAL-NET ESRs will benefit from joint (academic and industrial) supervision, ensuring the successful completion of their Individual Research projects.

  • Training

In addition to their individual scientific projects REAL-NET ESRs will be collaborating with world leading research groups within the Consortium through secondments. All ESRs will benefit from extensive and varied further continuing education, completing a series of carefully designed training modules and transferable skills courses; they will participate in symposia, workshops and international conferences and will have meaningful exposure to the industrial environment through spending 18 months of their appointment with one ore more REAL-NET industrial partners.


Eligibility criteria

  • At the core of the MSCA-ITNs is researcher mobility. At the time of commencing their REAL-NET employment, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their (recruiting) host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.
  • Applicants must at the first day of their REAL-NET employment contract, be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research career and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. This research experience is measured from the date when they obtain the degree which formally entitles them to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited, even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged). Research Experience is measured to the first day of the REAL-NET employment contract of the researcher.
  • The MSCA Mobility and Eligibility Criteria detailed above will be verified during the application process. For more information on MSCA, please see: http://ec.europa.eu/mariecurieactions.

Selection process

  • General guidance for applicants: The ESR positions will also be advertised locally at the respective institutions and local recruitment sites. These local/individual advertisements will have further details including local PhD admission criteria and application deadlines.
  • To apply, initially please send your CV, a cover letter and supporting documents by email (using the subject header "EID  REAL-NET Application") to the main supervisor for the position that you wish to apply for. Please see the descriptions of ESR projects listed above.

Additional comments

  • REAL-NET is explicitly committed to the principle of equal opportunities. For further information please contact Ms Christiane Doering-Saad  c.doering-saad@aston.ac.uk.
  • For specific questions concerning the content of the research please contact Prof Sergei Turitsyn s.k.turitsyn@aston.ac.uk and Dr. Antonio Napoli ANapoli@infinera.com  or the main supervisors of each ESR project.
  • PhD tuition fee:
    The REAL-NET Fellowship includes a bursary to cover PhD tuition fees. Specific bursary conditions will be advertised locally.
  • Acknowledgement
    This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 813114.


Offer Requirements

    ENGLISH: Excellent


  • REAL-NET is looking for the candidates with a strong academic background and exceptional grades, who have been awarded, or expect to get before the project start, a Master of Science degree in Electrical/Optical Engineering, Physics, or equivalent.
  • In exceptional cases outstanding candidates with a BSc in an appropriate discipline will also be considered at Aston University.
  • Please provide transcripts of the marks you have already achieved with your application.
  • English Language: ESRs must demonstrate that their ability to understand and express themselves in both written and spoken English is sufficient for them to derive the full benefits of the network training. Formal English language requirements will vary according to the university at which the ESR is enrolled for a PhD. Please see the local/individual advertisements for the exact requirements applicable or contact your intended host for further information.
  • Applicants must comply with the usual MSCA eligibility and mobility rules.
  • All applicants MUST be within their first 4 years of research experience.

Work location(s)
2 position(s) available at
Aston University
United Kingdom
2 position(s) available at
Telecom ParisTech
2 position(s) available at
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

EURAXESS offer ID: 372253


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