ESP Biography

TANYA KHOVANOVA, Math Entertainer

Major: Dept. Math

College/Employer: MIT

Year of Graduation: Not available.

Picture of Tanya Khovanova

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Tanya Khovanova is a research affiliate at MIT and a freelance mathematician. She received her Ph.D. in Mathematics from the Moscow State University in 1988. At that time her research interests were in presentation theory, integrable systems, super-string theory and quantum groups. Her research was interrupted by a period of employment in industry, where she became interested in algorithm, complexity theory, cryptography and networks. Three years ago she resigned from industry to return to research. Her current interests lie in combinatorics, number theory, recreational mathematics and probability theory. Her website is located at, her highly popular math blog at and her Number Gossip website at
Tanya Khovanova currently works as a math coach at AMSA Charter School, as a head mentor at PRIMES MIT and as a coordinator for RSI math projects at MIT math department.

Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

M5005: Topology and Art in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
I'll use drawings of Anatoly Fomenko and YouTube movies to discuss topology.

M3955: Mathematical Research by High School Students at MIT in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
We will tell about mathematical research that is conducted by high school students at MIT. We will talk about RSI and a new program PRIMES which is being set up now. We will describe past successful projects and research ideas for the future. We will answer your questions and tell you how to apply to PRIMES.

M2602: Integers and Sequences in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
Have you ever heard of "untouchable numbers"? How about "aspiring numbers"? I will tell you what they are. I will explain how "perfect numbers" are connected to Mersenne primes. I will describe the biggest known prime number. Have you ever wondered which is the most famous number sequence? Or which is the most versatile sequence? We will discuss that. What is the largest amount of money in coins that you can have without being able to make change for a dollar? You can bring your answer to this seminar. What is so special about 1089? You will learn that, too. Is 42 (The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything) more famous than 47 (the secret Star Trek TNG number)? I promise you the answer to that. I will also show you key Internet resources about numbers, so that you'll be able to discover new truths about your favorite numbers.