Harvard-schooled Maryam Mirzakhani, 40, usually lady to win a Fields Medal

NEW YORK — Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian mathematician who was a usually lady ever to win a Fields Medal, a many prestigious respect in mathematics, died Saturday. She was 40.

The means was breast cancer, pronounced Stanford University, where she was a professor. The university did not contend where she died.


Her genocide is “a large detriment and startle to a mathematical village worldwide,” pronounced Peter C. Sarnak, a mathematician during Princeton University and a Institute for Advanced Study.

The Fields Medal, determined in 1936, is mostly described as a Nobel Prize of mathematics. But distinct a Nobels, a Fields are bestowed usually on people age 40 or younger, not usually to respect their accomplishments yet also to envision destiny mathematical triumphs. The Fields are awarded each 4 years, with adult to 4 mathematicians selected during a time.

“She was in a midst of doing illusory work,” Sarnak said. “Not usually did she solve many problems; in elucidate problems, she grown collection that are now a bread and butter of people operative in a field.”

Dr. Mirzakhani was one of 4 Fields winners in 2014, during a International Congress of Mathematicians in South Korea. Until then, all 52 recipients had been men. She was also a usually Iranian ever to win a award.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran expelled a matter expressing “great grief and sorrow.”


He wrote, “The forlorn value of a artistic scientist and common chairman that echoed Iran’s name in systematic circles around a universe was a branch indicate in introducing Iranian women and girl on their approach to conquer a summits of honour and several ubiquitous stages.”

Dr. Mirzakhani’s arithmetic looked during a interplay of dynamics and geometry, in some ways a some-more difficult chronicle of billiards, with balls bouncing from one side to another of a rectilinear billiards list eternally.

A ball’s trail can infrequently be a repeating pattern. A elementary instance is a round that hits a side during a right angle. It would afterwards rebound behind and onward in a line forever, never relocating to any other partial of a table.

But if a round bounced during an angle, a arena would be some-more intricate, mostly covering a whole table.

“You wish to see a arena of a ball,” Dr. Mirzakhani explained in a video constructed by a Simons Foundation and a International Mathematical Union to form a 2014 Fields winners. “Would it cover all your billiard table? Can we find sealed billiards paths? And interestingly enough, this is an open doubt in general.”

In work with Alex Eskin of a University of Chicago, Dr. Mirzakhani examined billiards tables of some-more difficult shapes, and in fact deliberate a dynamics of balls bouncing around all probable tables that fit a certain criteria.

It was a severe problem that had been pounded by many distinguished mathematicians — including Curtis T. McMullen, her topic confidant during Harvard and also a Fields medalist — all with singular progress. It was a quite brazen plan for someone who was usually commencement her career in a mid-2000s.

Amie Wilkinson, a arithmetic highbrow during a University of Chicago, removed sitting in on a assembly with Dr. Mirzakhani and Eskin. Whereas Eskin tended to be pessimistic, saying all a intensity pitfalls that could skip a proof, Dr. Mirzakhani was a opposite. “Just pulling and pulling and pushing,” Wilkinson said. “Completely confident a whole time.’’

After a decade of work, Dr. Mirzakhani and Eskin valid not a strange problem that they had set out to solve yet a somewhat opposite one.

“When these trajectories unwind,’’ Wilkinson said, “they exhibit low properties about numbers and geometry.”

Sarnak pronounced that yet Dr. Mirzakhani wrote comparatively few papers, she was still a diversion changer. “I’m certain in a prolonged run, she would have had many some-more of these wilful papers,” he said.

In further to being mathematically talented, “she was a chairman who suspicion deeply from a belligerent up,” he said.

“That’s always a symbol of someone who creates a permanent contribution,” he added.

In an talk in 2014 with Quanta Magazine, published by a Simons Foundation, Dr. Mirzakhani, who described herself as a “slow” mathematician, concurred her bent to take a harder path.

“You have to omit low-hanging fruit, that is a small tricky,” she said. “I’m not certain if it’s a best approach of doing things, indeed — you’re torturing yourself along a way.”

Maryam Mirzakhani was innate on May 3, 1977, in Tehran. As a child, she review voraciously and wanted to turn a writer. Iran was during fight with Iraq during a time, yet a fight finished as she entered center school.

“I consider we was a propitious generation,” she pronounced in a Fields video, “because we was a teen when things became some-more stable.”

In high school, she was a member of a Iranian group during a International Mathematical Olympiad. She won a bullion award in a olympiad in 1994, and a subsequent year won another bullion medal, with a ideal score.

After completing a bachelor’s grade during Sharif University of Technology in Tehran in 1999, she attended connoisseur propagandize during Harvard. She afterwards became a highbrow during Princeton before relocating to Stanford in 2008.

She leaves her husband, Jan Vondrák, who is also a arithmetic highbrow during Stanford, and a daughter, Anahita.

Dr. Mirzakhani mostly dived into her math investigate by doodling on immeasurable pieces of paper sprawled on a floor, with equations during a edges. Her daughter described it as “painting.”

“It is like being mislaid in a jungle,” Dr. Mirzakhani said, “and perplexing to use all a believe that we can accumulate to come adult with some new tricks — and with some fitness we competence find a approach out.”

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