PhD position in hardware/software co-designs for distributed system acceleration

Job description

The Software Systems (SWYSTEMS) group at Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) in Lugano, Switzerland, in cooperation with SAP, has an open PhD position to work on the efficiency and scalability of distributed systems in data centers. Approaches that combine both hardware and software aspects of the infrastructure to address distributed system requirements are of particular interest.

Candidates are expected to have a strong background and interest in distributed systems and/or latest data center hardware. Candidates wishing to focus on practical systems research should have solid implementation skills while candidates wishing to pursue theoretical research should have a deep understanding of the theory of distributed computing.

Demonstrated experience with the inner workings of existing distributed coordination services (e.g. Zookeeper) or datacenter network hardware designs (NIC, switches), is an advantage. Candidates with such experience, whether practical or theoretical, are strongly encouraged to highlight it in their application.


The SWYSTEMS group led by Prof. Patrick Eugster is part of the novel Computer Systems Institute recently established at USI. The group conducts research in the fields of networked distributed systems and programming languages and in particular at the intersection of the two. The group’s visibility and impact are demonstrated for instance by a highly competitive Distributed Systems Research Award by Facebook in 2020, competitive public funding (e.g., European Research Council, Swiss National Science Foundation), as well as strong collaborations in academia (e.g., TU Darmstadt, Purdue University) and industry (e.g., Hewlett Packard, Cisco Systems). In particular, the present position is part of a larger collaboration between USI and SAP, which includes the possibility of spending time at SAP’s headquarters in Walldorf.

The Faculty of Informatics of USI is one of the top computer science departments in Switzerland with over 50 professors and lecturers. The Faculty offers highly competitive salaries (47k-50k CHF yearly gross for PhD students) and opportunities to participate in the educational mission of the Faculty.

The Faculty is located in Lugano within a 10-minute walk from the city center and lake. Lugano is the largest city in the italian-speaking canton of Ticino and is very well connected: by car/train Milan is 1 hour away and Zürich 2 hours away, along with their respective international airports.

Application instructions

Candidates should have a Master’s degree, strong analytical abilities, good communication skills (including proficiency in spoken and written English), and a passion for academic research.

Candidates are requested to submit their applications via email to Prof. Patrick Eugster ( and Patrick Jahnke ( using the subject “Application to PhD in DS/HW”. Applications must include a CV, the names and contact information of 3 references, and a 1-page motivation letter that should include what the applicant can uniquely bring to this position and what he/she expects to learn from this PhD. Screening will start immediately and continue until the position is filled. Informal questions on the position are welcome (