Maryam Mirzakhani, Only Woman to Win a Fields Medal, Dies during 40

“She was in a midst of doing illusory work,” Dr. 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.”


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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.”

Maryam Mirzakhani: A Tenacious Explorer of Abstract Surfaces Video by Quanta Magazine

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 only commencement her career in a mid-2000s.

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Amie Wilkinson, a arithmetic highbrow during a University of Chicago, removed sitting in on a assembly with Dr. Mirzakhani and Dr. Eskin. Whereas Dr. Eskin tended to be pessimistic, saying all a intensity pitfalls that could skip a proof, Dr. Mirzakhani was a opposite.


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“Just pulling and pulling and pushing,” Dr. Wilkinson said. “Completely confident a whole time.’’

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

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

Dr. 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.


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“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.

Survivors embody 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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