Acclaimed Stanford Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani Dies At 40

16 July 2017, 12:11 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Maryam Mirzakhani. Credit Stanford University

Maryam Mirzakhani. Credit Stanford University

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

In 2014, Mirzakhani was awarded the coveted Fields Medal, also known as the Nobel Prize of mathematics.

Mirzakhani was born in Tehran, Iran, and - by her own estimation - was fortunate to come of age after the Iran-Iraq war when the political, social and economic environment had stabilized enough that she could focus on her studies.

She earned her doctorate at Harvard University and taught at Stanford University.

She said the 2014 award was a great honor.

In a 2008 interview with the Clay Mathematics Institute, Mirzakhani was asked to give advice to younger students.

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Her work has inspired many mathematicians, as she contributed to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces, according to the International Mathematical Union.

Professor Maryam Mirzakhani on Stanford's campus. The 40-year-old, who used to teach at Stanford University, was also the first Iranian woman to be elected to the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in May 2016 in recognition of her "distinguished and continuing achievement in original research".

The Iran native thrived in study of curved surfaces such as doughnut shapes and amoebas - to a degree that other bright minds in the field dared not explore, her colleagues have said. "It breaks my heart... gone far too soon", she wrote.

Mirzakhani is survived by Jan Vondrák her husband who is a Czech theoretical computer scientist and associate professor at Stanford University, and a daughter named Anahita. "But for myself, I prefer solo activities; I enjoy reading and exercising in my free time", she said.

In a message issued on Saturday, President Rouhani said the demise of "the well-known mathematical genius" has caused deep sorrow for him.

Firouz Naderi, her friend and NASA scientist, confirmed Mirzakhani's death on Instagram. Her young daughter described her mother at work as "painting".



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