Iranian the first woman to win Fields Medal for math

By AAP with AG Staff 13 August 2014
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Iranian Professor Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to receive the Fields Medal for mathematics

AN IRANIAN-BORN mathematician has become the first woman to win a prestigious global prize known as the Fields Medal  in its 78-year history.

Maryam Mirzakhani, a Harvard-educated mathematician and professor at Stanford University in California, was one of four winners, officially announced at the International Congress of Mathematicians’ conference in Seoul, though the news was leaked a day early on the website of the ICM.

“This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians,” Mirzakhani told the Standford University News. “I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years.”

An expert in the geometry of unusual forms, Maryam has come up with novel ways to calculate the volumes of oddly-shaped hyperbolic surfaces, which can be curved like a saddle or curly like a piece of crochet.

“Fluent in a remarkably diverse range of mathematical techniques and disparate mathematical cultures, she embodies a rare combination of superb technical ability, bold ambition, far-reaching vision, and deep curiosity,” the ICM said in a statement on Tuesday.

Fields Medal honour to first woman

Mirzakhani was born in Tehran in 1977 and earned her PhD in 2004 from Harvard University.

She has previously won the 2009 Blumenthal Award for the Advancement of Research in Pure Mathematics and the 2013 Satter Prize of the American Mathematical Society.

Officially known as the ‘International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics’, The Fields Medal is given out every four years, to four separate winners. It it referred to as the ‘Nobel prize’ of mathematics.

The other three winners this year were Artur Avila of France, Manjul Bhargava of Princeton University in New Jersey, and Martin Hairer of the University of Warwick in Britain.

The prize was established in 1936.