First woman to win prestigious Fields Medal dies

Iranian Math Genius Mirzakhani Dies of Cancer

"It is fun - it's like solving a puzzle or connecting the dots in a detective case", Mirzakhani said when she won the prestigious Fields Medal in 2014.

Mirzakhani had been battling cancer for four years. The award is given out every four years. Four years later, she received the Fields Medal, which is considered the mathematics equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

Mirzakhani was drawn to mathematics while in high school in Iran's capital, Tehran, where she grew up.

"Also, everyone has a different style, and something that works for one person might not be so great for others", she said.

Mirzakhani, who described herself as a slow mathematician, was drawn to big, hard questions in her field, a trait that made her a revered figure within the mathematics community.

A year later, she became the first Iranian student to achieve a flawless score and win two gold medals at the Olympiad. "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".

"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. "Gone far too soon", Iran-born NASA scientist Firouz Naderi posted on Twitter.

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

Her death was confirmed Saturday by Stanford University, where Mirzakhani had been a professor since 2008.

Mirzakhani enjoyed pure mathematics because of its "elegance and longevity", she said.

Her work focused on the complexities of curved surfaces, such as spheres and doughnuts.

Stanford president Marc Tessier-Lavigne said Mirzakhani's impact will live on for the thousands of women she inspired to pursue math and science careers.

"It's 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", she added.

"A light was turned off today, it breaks my heart.... But also a daughter, a mother and a wife".

He then posted: "A genius? Yes".


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