Maryam Mirzakhani, first woman to win Fields Medal, dies aged 40

Iranian Math Genius Mirzakhani Dies of Cancer

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

Mirzakhani got the Fields Medal for Mathematics in 2014 for her work on complex geometry and dynamical systems. Mirzakhani was the first woman and first Iranian to receive the honor since its creation in 1936.

Mirzakhani was born in Iran and joined Stanford as a mathematics professor in 2008. Mirzakhani became known on the global mathematics scene as a teenager, winning gold medals at both the 1994 and 1995 worldwide Math Olympiads - and finished with a flawless score in the latter competition.

Mirzakhani studied mathematics in Iran and earned a PhD degree from Harvard in 2004.

"What's so special about Maryam, the thing that really separates her, is the originality in how she puts together these disparate pieces", said Steven Kerckhoff, at the time of her Fields Medal award. The paper, more than 200 pages long, has been hailed as "the beginning of a new era" in mathematics and "a titanic work". "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 math".

Firouz Naderi’s post in Instagram in reaction to Mirzakhani’s death
Firouz Naderi’s post in Instagram in reaction to Mirzakhani’s death

In a 2008 interview with the Clay Mathematics Institute, Mirzakhani was asked to give advice to younger students. "I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years".

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

Bahram Ghasemi, spokesperson for Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that "we and all Iranians around the world are praising and praying for her health knowing that the world of science was impatiently waiting for her return to the realm of research, teaching, and academic discussions".

"A light was turned off today", he said in a post. "It breaks my heart. gone far too soon", friend Firouz Naderi, a Nasa scientist, also wrote in an Instagram post earlier in the day. In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said that Mirzakhani's "doleful passing" has caused "great sorrow", state media reported.

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