prof.dr. N.V. Litvak (Nelly)

Full Professor

About Me

I am a professor in Algorithms for Complex Networks. I am also a part-time professor at Eindhoven University of Technology and a visiting professor at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. My background is in Applied Probability and Stochastic Operations Research.   My main research interests are in large networks such as on-line social networks and the World Wide Web, randomized algorithms, and random graphs, and since recently in prediction for networks using machine learning.  I am passionate about teaching, as well as popularizing mathematics through popular science books, public lectures and social media. 

I received my MSc from the Lobachevsky University of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, in 1995 and my PhD from Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, in 2002.


Complex Networks
Graph In Graph Theory
Vertex Of A Graph
Markov Chain
Health Care
Monte Carlo Methods
Scale-Free Networks


I study mathematical methods and algorithms for complex networks, such as social networks and the WWW. Real-life networks are modeled as random graphs, and algorithms are used to extract information from the massive network data.  A famous example of such algorithm is PageRank that Google invented to rank web pages.  My  research revolves around three main topics: 1) Information extraction and predictions based on data. 2) Analysis of  mathematical properties of algorithms in networks. 3)  Inferring information when we do not have the data about networks, but can observe some (usually random) processes running on them, such as crawling of the web, epidemics, or spreading of topics and on-line campaigns.

UT Research Information System

Google Scholar Link


I am passionate about teaching and modern interactive teaching methods. In all my courses I have implemented a homework system developed by Eric Mazur (Harvard University), where students are encouraged to develop their problem-solving skills and get graded for completeness rather than correctness of their answers. 

Affiliated Study Programmes





I am a non-fiction writer in my free time. I write popular books about mathematics, and non-fiction books related to upbringing and  education. Up to now, I have published five books, four of them are in Russian (my native language). I also run a large Facebook group on popularizing mathematics (in Russian).

In the press

Media articles:


Popular science and non-fiction books:

  • Nelly Litvak and Alla Kechedzhan. "Mathematics for hopeless non-mathematicians" ("Математика для безнадежных гуманитариев. Для тех, кто учил языки, литературу и прочую лирику")  AST, 2019. In Russian.
    In summer 2017 Alla, a hopeless non-mathematician, 46 years old, decided to learn math, and I agreed to help her. This book is about discovering school-level mathematics, from opening brackets to the sine wave, about Alla's unexpected difficulties and creative interpretations, and how my views on math education shuttered when I looked at it through her eyes. On the way, we created a Facebook group of thousands participants, who solved the problems, commented, observed the process, so it is fair to say that the book was written online.

  • Nelly Litvak and Andrei Raigorodsky. "Who needs mathematics? A clear book about how the digital world works."  ("Кому нужна математика? Понятная книга о том, как устроен цифровой мир") Mann-Ivanov-Ferber 2017. In Russian.
    The book is about applications of mathematics in digital technologies. The topics include: planning and scheduling (linear programming), coding theory, random graphs and robustness of Internet, load balancing in web servers, probabilistic counters and big data, cryptography and on-line auctions. The book was in a finalist of the Enlightener Award 2017 for the best popular science book in Russian, see the item in the UT news for more detail. 

  • Nelly Litvak. "IQ to Love: What makes highly intelligent men attractive to women", self-published on Amazon.com, 2014
    This is a fun and useful book for intelligent young men about relationships.
  • Nelly Litvak. "Vocation formula - 7 rules for choosing university." (“Формула призвания – 7 правил выбора вуза”) Alpina non-fiction publisher, 2012. In Russian.
    This book is addressed to high school students and is about what questions to ask, what information to look for, and how to talk to the parents when choosing the studies.
  • Nelly Litvak. "Our nice teenagers." (“Наши хорошие подростки”) Alpina non-fiction publisher, 2010. In Russian.
    This book is about raising teenagers and how children are raised in The Netherlands.

Social media

  • Facebook group "Mathematics Great and Terrible" ("Математика - великая и ужасная!"). The group is to help non-mathematicians to learn about mathematics.


News on utwente.nl


Contact Details

Visiting Address

University of Twente
Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Zilverling (building no. 11), room 4031
Hallenweg 19
7522NH  Enschede
The Netherlands

Navigate to location

Mailing Address

University of Twente
Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Zilverling  4031
P.O. Box 217
7500 AE Enschede
The Netherlands

Social Media