First woman to win prestigious Fields Medal dies

According to doctors, her cancer had spread to her bones.

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

In 2014, Mirzakhani was awarded the coveted Fields Medal, also known as the Nobel Prize of mathematics. She had extensively contributed to the theory of moduli spaces of Riemann surfaces. Although much of it was highly theoretical, it has applications in quantum physics as well as engineering and material science. She was ambitious, resolute and fearless in the face of problems others would not, or could not, tackle.

Mirzakhani said mathematics made her feel like a detective.

As a professor and scholar, Mirzakhani's pictures helped her write stories with her math. "But also a daughter, a mother and a wife".

"You have to spend some energy and effort to see the beauty of math", she told one reporter.

Ali Akbar Salehi, an MIT-educated nuclear physicist who now leads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, also said, "I offer my condolences over the untimely and heartbreaking demise of her to Iranians, her family, and all scientists worldwide". "It is like being lost in a jungle and trying to use all the knowledge that you can gather to come up with some new tricks, and with some luck you might find a way out".

Born on May 3, 1977, in Tehran, Mirzakhani showed her knack for numbers from an early age, winning back-to-back gold medals in the 1994 and 1995 International Mathematical Olympiads.

She had dreamed of becoming a writer when she was young, she said, but instead pursued her enthusiasm for solving mathematical problems. Mirzakhani first gained global recognition during the 1994 and 1995 competitions. In 1995, she earned a flawless score and two gold medals. Her notes were jotted in Farsi.

The award was established in 1936. She had already been battling the disease for several years. She earned a doctoral degree from Harvard University in 2004 and became full professor of mathematics in 2008 at Stanford at a very young age of 31.

  • Joe Gonzales