Iranian is first woman to win 'Nobel Prize of maths' (Update)

Aug 12, 2014
Maryam Mirzakhani was awarded the Fields Medal for her sophisticated and highly original contributions to the fields of geometry and dynamical systems.

An Iranian-born mathematician has become the first woman to win a prestigious Fields Medal, widely viewed as the Nobel Prize of mathematics.

Maryam Mirzakhani, a Harvard-educated mathematician and professor at Stanford University in California, was one of four winners announced by the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) at its conference in Seoul on Wednesday.

"This is a great honour. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians," Mirzakhani said in a press release from Stanford University where she is a professor.

"I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years," she added.

The award recognised Mirzakhani's sophisticated and highly original contributions to the fields of geometry and dynamical systems, particularly in understanding the symmetry of curved surfaces such as spheres.

Although her work is considered "pure mathematics" and is mostly theoretical, it has implications for physics and quantum field theory, as well as for the study of prime numbers and cryptography.

"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.

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani offered his congratulations to Mirzakhani in a letter.

He added: "Today, Iranians can be proud that the first woman to win the fields medal is their fellow compatriot. Yes, the best deserve to be on top and be appreciated.

"Every Iranian no matter where she/he is in this world, is a national asset for this country and I as the representative of Iranian nation pay my respect to you. I wish you a life filled with happiness and success."

This handout photo taken and released on August 13, 2014 by the Seoul ICM 2014 shows Maryam Mirzakhani after the awards ceremony for the Fields Medals at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul on August 13, 2014

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.

'Like solving a puzzle'

The Fields Medal is given out every four years, often to multiple winners who should not be aged over 40.

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.

With no Nobel prize awarded for mathematics, the Fields Medal is seen as the top global award for the discipline.

The medals were presented by South Korea's first woman president, Park Geun-Hye.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (L) gives the prize to Maryam Mirzakhani, at the awards ceremony for the Fields Medals, during the International Congress of Mathematicians, in Seoul, on August 13, 2014

"I congratulate all the winners, with special applause for Maryam Mirzakhani, whose drive and passion have made her the first woman to win a Fields Medal," Park said.

Before Wednesday's ceremony all 52 previous recipients had been men.

Born and raised in Tehran, Mirzakhani initially dreamed of becoming a writer, but by the time she started high school her affinity for solving mathematical problems and working on proofs had shifted her sights.

"It is fun—it's like solving a puzzle or connecting the dots in a detective case," she said. "I felt that this was something I could do, and I wanted to pursue this path."

Although it usually involves abstract concepts of nature that might not have an immediately obvious application, Mirzakhani said she enjoyed pure mathematics because of the elegance and longevity of the questions she studies.

"It is 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 said.

Mirzakhani became known on the international mathematics scene as a teenager, winning gold medals at both the 1994 and 1995 International Math Olympiads—finishing with a perfect score in the latter competition.

In 2008 she became a professor of mathematics at Stanford, where she lives with her husband and three-year-old daughter.

"On behalf of the entire Stanford community, I congratulate Maryam on this incredible recognition, the highest honour in her discipline, the first ever granted to a woman," said university president John Hennessy.

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User comments : 8

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flashgordon
not rated yet Aug 12, 2014
Looking her up, I've seen that face around somewhere before; didn't know her name. Techmuller theory? I was probably checking out the the recent ABC theorem.

Tektrix
4 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2014
The tide lifts all boats :) We women can celebrate together that one of us is being duly recognized for her wonderful mind and very hard work. The men can celebrate too, of course. ;)

Congratulations, Maryam!
Toiea
1 / 5 (3) Aug 13, 2014
She has a stronly myopic eyes, like being poisoned with organophosphates. It's an natural adaptation of mountain people from Kashmir and Armenia (compare the famous photo of the Afghan girl). Poock (1973) reported that when participants' minds were loaded to 125% of their capacity, their pupils constricted.
Uncle Ira
5 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2014
She has a stronly myopic eyes, like being poisoned with organophosphates. It's an natural adaptation of mountain people from Kashmir and Armenia (compare the famous photo of the http://s.ngm.com/afghan-girl/images/afghan-girl-615.jpg reported that when participants' minds were loaded to 125% of their capacity, their pupils constricted.


@ Socratic-Skippy is that caused by the different AWT waves over in that part of the world? Or do they have the same AWT that we have over here in America? But I am glad to see you took your own advice about the sticking to the topics and the really important stuffs and not twiddling like all those other silly peoples. You setting the good example for everybody.
Toiea
not rated yet Aug 13, 2014
was one of four winners announced by the International Congress of Mathematicians
I see, so where the names of the other guys are? The matematicians hold the number of another significant prizes (Nevanlinna, Gauss, Chern, Levatti prizes). BTW The article about her work. Mirzakhani's husband is also famous mathematician Jan Vondrak from Czechia.
is that caused by the different AWT waves over in that part of the world
An adaptation to the UV radiation at higher altitudes I guess. Tibetian people have smaller pupils too.
Uncle Ira
5 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2014
I see, so where the names of the other guys are?


The article is about her, not them Zeph-Skippy. You will have to go find an article about them to get their names. But since they weren't the first mens to get the prize the article about them might be hard to find because after being the first one, everything else is not as interesting as being the first one ever.

You want me to look on the google to see if I can find out their names for you podna? I am not to much very busy right now.
Toiea
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2014
because after being the first one, everything else is not as interesting as being the first one ever
Well, it's not particularly polite with respect to other laureates, don't you think? And it enforces the interest of people about formal aspects of research and prize instead of content. Not to say, that in gender fully balanced society the sex of prize holder should be completely irrelevant. What are we facing here is the positive sexism.

I do understand the motivations of this article completely, but just from the same reason I've no problem to name it.
Toiea
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2014
Using the normal distribution, La Griffe du Lion has predicted a female winner of the Fields medal, the most well-known prize in mathematics, to surface once in 103 years. Maryam Mirzakhani surfaced after 70 years of the award, which may indicate some negative bias in previous years, or positive bias by now. BTW The list of articles of her

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