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Sanjoy Mahajan, Ph.D.

Sanjoy Mahajan

Associate Professor of Applied Science and Engineering

Milas Hall 367


Ph.D., Physics, California Institute of Technology, 1998
B.A., Mathematics, Oxford University, 1992
B.S., Physics, Stanford University, 1990

Select Courses Taught

Art of Approximation in Science and Engineering
Signals and Systems
Bayesian Inference and Reasoning


Art of Approximation
Science Teaching
Operator Theory


Marshall Scholarship
Research Fellowship, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Hertz Fellowship


Dr. Sanjoy Mahajan obtained his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1998, and has undergraduate degrees in mathematics from Oxford University and in physics from Stanford University. Due to his wonderful teachers, he became interested in improving science teaching, an interest he followed as a postdoctoral researcher and faculty member in the Physics Department at the University of Cambridge and as a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge, Dr. Mahajan helped found the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Cape Town, South Africa, where he was the first Curriculum Director and taught the first courses in physics and computer science. There he wrote the (free) software to automate barcoding and cataloguing the 5,000 donated books that started the Institute's library.

From 2006 to 2010, he was Associate Director of MIT's Teaching and Learning Laboratory.  In 2010, he joined Olin as Associate Professor of Applied Science and Engineering, while also spending 2014 and 2015 as Visiting Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.

At Olin, he has taught mathematics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and physics.  He has published two books with MIT Press: Street-Fighting Mathematics: The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving (2010) and The Art of Insight in Science and Engineering: Mastering Complexity (2014). Both are available in print and online under a Creative Commons Noncommercial ShareAlike license.  His next book is A Student's Guide to Newton's Laws of Motion, to be published by Cambridge University Press.

Select Publications

Sanjoy Mahajan, The Art of Insight in Science and Engineering: Mastering Complexity, MIT Press, 2014.
Sanjoy Mahajan, Street-Fighting Mathematics: The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving, MIT Press, 2010.
Sacha Zyto, David Karger, Mark Ackerman, and Sanjoy Mahajan. Successful classroom deployment of a social document annotation system. In Proceedings of CHI. 2012, 1883-1892.
K. Lee and S. Mahajan, A Pattern Classification Approach to Evaluation Function Learning; In Proceedings of Artificial Intelligence 36(1): 1-25 (1988).
Curriculum VitaePersonal Website