First woman to win Fields Medal in mathematics dies at 40

First woman to win Fields Medal in mathematics dies at 40

Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian-born mathematician who in 2014 changed into the first lady presented the Fields Medal, often called essentially the most prestigious prize in mathematics, died July 15. She was FORTY.

Stanford University, the place she had been a professor due to the fact 2008, announced her loss of life but didn’t say where she died. The result in used to be breast cancer.

Dr. Mirzakhani grew up in Tehran and got here to the America in 1999 for graduate observe at Harvard School. Her mathematical pursuits incorporated the theoretical observe of complicated geometric shapes and the motion of billiard balls throughout surfaces.

Her paintings was once deeply theoretical, however different mathematicians thought to be it boldly unique and of untold future significance. Her doctoral dissertation, which she finished in 2004, solved two lengthy-status mathematical issues and ended in guides in 3 leading arithmetic journals.

“She has a fearless ambition whilst it involves arithmetic,” her Harvard mentor, Curtis McMullen, a previous Fields Medal winner, told Quanta Magazine in 2014.

Any Other academic collaborator, School of Chicago mathematician Alex Eskin, defined her contributions as “the type of mathematics you instantly acknowledge belongs in a textbook.”

Dr. Mirzakhani was in particular concerned with the “geometric and dynamic complexities of curved surfaces,” Stanford mentioned in a statement. Those surfaces integrated spheres, amoebas and sophisticated hyperbolic systems, or saddle-shaped or doughnut-shaped abstract objects with multiple openings. She additionally studied the dynamics of how debris transfer or float throughout surfaces — just like the trajectory of billiard balls rolling on tables of different configurations.

Her paintings is already extensively influential in arithmetic, with conceivable long run use in engineering, cryptography and theoretical physics, together with research of the starting place of the universe.

In 2014, she was one in every of four mathematicians to obtain the Fields Medal — officially called the Global Medal for Exceptional Discoveries in Arithmetic, which is awarded through the International Mathematical Union. Also Known As the identical of the Nobel Prize, it’s presented every four years to no more than 4 mathematicians below the age of 40.

Whilst Dr. Mirzakhani won the Fields Medal, it was once regarded as a second of great symbolic significance for ladies in mathematics and technology. She is the only lady to have won the medal, named for Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields, since it used to be first awarded in 1936.

She regularly sketched mathematical proofs on massive sheets of paper — a process her younger daughter known as “painting” and which Dr. Mirzakhani likened to composing a singular.

“There are different characters, and also you have become to grasp them better,” she advised Quanta Mag. “Things evolve, and then you look back at a character, and it’s different from your first affect.”

Maryam Mirzakhani was once born Might THREE, 1977, in Tehran. in the few interviews she gave, she stated that as a kid, she wanted to be a writer, but she discovered not anything approximately her oldsters or their occupations.

She did say that she was curious about arithmetic after her older brother informed her a few shorthand option to add the entire numbers from 1 to 100. The trick, devised in the 18th century via Carl Friedrich Gauss, is so as to add the outermost pairs of numbers: 1 plus ONE HUNDRED, 2 plus NINETY NINE, THREE plus NINETY EIGHT, and so on. on every occasion, the sum is A HUNDRED AND ONE. There are 50 pairs of numbers. Multiplying 50 through 101 yields the answer: FIVE,050.

Even As attending a girls’ high school in Tehran, Dr. Mirzakhani earned gold medals in international math competitions, including a really perfect ranking in 1995. She graduated from Tehran’s Sharif School of Era in 1999 and gained her doctorate in mathematics from Harvard in 2004.

She taught at Princeton College and was once a research fellow with the Clay Arithmetic Institute in New Hampshire sooner than becoming a member of the Stanford faculty. Dr. Mirzakhani’s loss of life was cited in an announcement issued through Hassan Rouhani, president of Iran.

Survivors come with her husband, laptop scientist Jan Vondrak of Stanford, Calif.; and their 6-yr-old daughter, Anahita.

“I don’t have any specific recipe,” Dr. Mirzakhani stated in 2014 after successful the Fields Medal. However she said she derived a deep sense of pleasure from exploring mathematical problems.

“it’s like being lost in a jungle,” she said, “and trying to use the entire wisdom that you simply can collect to return up with a few new methods, and with some luck chances are you’ll discover a means out.”

Read extra Washington Submit obituaries

Simone Veil, French Holocaust survivor and stateswoman, dies at 89

Margaux Fragoso, author of searing memoir of adolescence sexual abuse, dies at 38

Felix Browder, mathematician shadowed by way of his father’s lifestyles as a Communist, dies at 89

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