First woman to win highest math award dies at 40

Nettie James
July 16, 2017

Maryam Mirzakhani, the Iranian genius mathematician and the first-ever female victor of the prestigious Fields Medal prize, died of breast cancer at a hospital in US on Saturday.

Maryam Mirzakhani, a professor at Stanford University who was the first and only woman to win the Fields Medal in mathematics, has died.

Mirzakhani fought breast cancer for the last four years of her life, which eventually spread to her bone marrow.

Mirzakhani is survived by her husband, Jan Vondrák, and a daughter, Anahita, the university said.

She specialized in theoretical mathematics.

Mirzakhani was born in Tehran in 1977, and was twice awarded the International Mathematical Olympiad's gold medal in her youth. She was the first woman to win the award since its inception in 1936.

Friend Firouz Naderi announced Mirzakhani's death on Saturday on Instagram and relatives subsequently confirmed her death to the Mehr agency in Iran. "Maryam was a brilliant mathematical theorist, and also a humble person who accepted honors only with the hope that it might encourage others to follow her path". Four years later, she received the Fields Medal, which is considered the mathematics equivalent of the Nobel Prize. It is given every four years to mathematicians under the age of 40.

Born in Tehran, Mirzakhani came to the U.S.to attend graduate school at Harvard University. Her parents had traveled to the USA on Monday, according to the Persian-language daily Haft-e-Sobh.

As a professor and scholar, Mirzakhani's pictures helped her write stories with her math.

When she won in 2014, the IMU called Mirzakhani's accomplishments in complex geometric forms such as Riemann surfaces and moduli spaces "stunning".

In 2014, she told Quanta Magazine, a science publication, that she thought about mathematics in pictures, doodling her ideas on giant sheets of paper scattered across her office.

"A genius? Yes. But also a daughter, a mother and a wife", he added in a subsequent post.

Other reports by Insurance News

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