Maryam Mirzakhani, prize-winning mathematician, dies at 40

Iranian Math Genius Mirzakhani Dies of Cancer

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

Iranian-origin Harvard-studied maths wizard Maryam Mirzakhani died aged 40 after a long battle with breast cancer that had spread to her bones.

Mirzakhani was born in Tehran, Iran on May 3, 1977, and she quickly displayed an unbelievable talent for math.

She received her BSc in mathematics in 1999 from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran and then went on to earn a PhD from Haravard University in 2004.

The award recognized her sophisticated and highly original contributions to the fields of geometry and dynamical systems, particularly in understanding the symmetry of curved surfaces such as spheres. "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 path".

"It breaks my heart... gone far too soon", she wrote. Marie-Curie had Nobel prizes in physics and chemistry at the beginning of the 20th century, but in mathematics this is the first time we have a woman winning the most prestigious prize. Her honors include the 2009 Blumenthal Award for the Advancement of Research in Pure Mathematics and the 2013 Satter Prize of the American Mathematical Society.

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

Maryam Mirzakhani is awarded with the 2014 Fields medal at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul, South Korea on August 13, 2014.

"I find it fascinating that you can look at the same problem from different perspectives and approach it using different methods", she said.

She specialized in theoretical mathematics. Kerckhoff is a mathematics professor at Stanford and was one of Mirzakhani's collaborators.

In 2014, she told Quanta Magazine, a science publication, that she thought about mathematics in pictures, doodling her ideas on giant sheets of paper scattered across her office.

Mirzakhani is survived by her husband, Jan Vondrak, and her 6-year-old daughter, Anahita.

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