Iranian victor of mathematics Fields Medal dies

Alicia Guzman
July 16, 2017

Mirzakhani was the first woman and first Iranian to receive the honor since its creation in 1936.

Professor Maryam Mirzakhani was the recipient of the 2014 Fields Medal, the top honor in mathematics.

Mirzakhani got the Fields Medal for Mathematics in 2014 for her work on complex geometry and dynamical systems.

Mirzakhani was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, and after fiercely batting this frightful disease for four years, she died on July 15, 2017.

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She was a research fellow at Clay Mathematics Institute from 2004 to 2008 and served as an assistant professor of mathematics at Princeton University. "Gone far too soon", Iranian-American NASA scientist Firouz Naderi posted on his Instagram.

Naderi later posted a time-lapse video of Mirzakhani presiding over a lecture hall, filling chalkboards with a proof.

Her work focused on the complexities of curved surfaces, such as spheres and doughnuts. "Her contributions as both a scholar and a role model are significant and enduring, and she will be dearly missed here at Stanford and around the world".

In recent years, she collaborated with Alex Eskin at the University of Chicago to take on another of the most-vexing problems in the field: the trajectory of a billiards ball around a polygonal table.

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A year later, she became the first Iranian student to achieve a flawless score and win two gold medals at the Olympiad. Her questions came in English.

After receiving her bachelor's degree in mathematics from the prestigious Sharif University of Technology in 1999, she moved to the United States and earned her a PhD from Harvard University five years later. Kerckhoff is a mathematics professor at Stanford and was one of Mirzakhani's collaborators.

She is survived by husband Jan Vondrák, a Czech theoretical computer scientist, and their 6-year-old daughter Anahita. "Sad to learn about the passing of #MaryamMirzakhani - the intelligent #Iranian daughter, wife, mother, professor". She liked to read and thought that maybe she would become a writer.

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