Sonja Petrović

Mathematician, statistician, entrepreneur.

Architect of the invisible.

*The "architect of the invisible" is a quote that my inspiring colleague Maria Villalobos Hernandez used to honor me in a conversation about how I admire her work and architecture in general.

I spend my academic days discovering, studying, and modeling structure in relational data we encounter in our daily lives.

I am passionate about social responsibility, inclusion, community engagement, and empowering others.

Academic bio

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics, College of Computing, at Illinois Institute of Technology.

My research is in nonlinear algebra and nonlinear statistics. I develop, analyze, and apply statistical models for discrete relational data such as networks. I also study randomized algorithm approaches to computational algebra problems whose expected runtimes are much lower than the well-known worst-case complexity bounds, develop probabilistic models to study average and extreme behavior of algebraic objects, and use machine learning to predict and improve the behavior of algebraic computations.

At Illinois Tech, I am a member of the statistics, discrete math, and computational math research groups. Prior to joining this department in 2013, I was on faculty at Penn State Statistics. In 2015 I became an Elected Member of the International Statistical Institute (ISI), received the College of Science Dean’s Junior Research Excellence Award, in 2018 the College of Science Excellence in Teaching Award, and in 2021 the College of Computing Excellence in Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award. My research has been supported by the DOE, NSF, AFOSR, DARPA, and the Simons Foundation.

I actively mentor and involve students in my projects.
I co-organize the Nonlinear algebra and statistics (NLASTATS) seminar at IIT, and am a Managing Editor of the new journal Algebraic Statistics. In 2020, I was one of the organizers of the international Algebraic Statistics Online Seminar.

Inspired by the various difficulties of the year 2020, I lead the creation of SoReMo: an initiative to help train students in multidisciplinary communication & enhance their social responsibility portfolio.

Apart from mathematics and statistics, I love living in Chicago and watching its spectacular sunsets, traveling (yes, still, even with small kids in tow!), playing bass guitar, dancing, biking, improvisational cooking, some easy rock climbing, and swimming in Lake Michigan (in the summer only!).

SoReMo & ME

A new initiative: Socially Responsible Modeling, Computation, and Design

Our central event - the Forum - kicked off in February 2021. Read more @LinkedIn.

Illinois Tech & me

Study mathematics & statistics:
Meet me @ Illinois Tech!

Learn more about the applied math department's research areas

Algebraic Statistics

The year 2020 had been very trying for many members of our community, but we can't fail to acknowledge two very important milestones for the field of algebraic statistics: that the 2020 MSC (Math Subject Classification) now includes code 62R01 for 'algebraic statistics', and that a new journal has been established!

Visit the AStat homepage and be inspired by the first issue from October 2020.
Here is the short editorial piece for the first volume.

[ text of the first issue announcement ]