Maryam Mirzakhani, Stanford mathematician and Fields Medal winner, dies

Stanford arithmetic Professor Maryam Mirzakhani, a initial and to-date usually womanlike leader of a Fields Medal given a pregnancy in 1936, died Jul 15 after a prolonged conflict with cancer. Mirzakhani was 40 years old.


Maryam Mirzakhani

Professor Maryam Mirzakhani was a target of a 2014 Fields Medal, a tip respect in mathematics. (Image credit: Courtesy Stanford News Service)

The quadrennial Fields Medal, that Mirzakhani won in 2014, is a many prestigious endowment in mathematics, mostly alike in status with a Nobel Prize. Mirzakhani specialized in fanciful arithmetic that review like a unfamiliar denunciation by those outward of mathematics: moduli spaces, Teichmüller theory, hyperbolic geometry, Ergodic speculation and symplectic geometry.

Mastering these approaches authorised Mirzakhani to pursue her mindfulness for describing a geometric and energetic complexities of winding surfaces – spheres, doughnut shapes and even amoebas – in as good fact as possible. Her work was rarely fanciful in nature, though it could have impacts concerning a fanciful production of how a star came to exist and, since it could surprise quantum margin theory, delegate applications to engineering and element science. Within mathematics, it has implications for a investigate of primary numbers and cryptography.

Mirzakhani assimilated a expertise of Stanford University in 2008, where she served as a highbrow of arithmetic until her death.

“Maryam is left distant too soon, though her impact will live on for a thousands of women she desirous to pursue math and science,” pronounced Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “Maryam was a shining mathematical theorist, and also a common chairman who ostensible honors usually with a wish that it competence inspire others to follow her path. Her contributions as both a academician and a purpose indication are poignant and enduring, and she will be dearly missed here during Stanford and around a world.”

Despite a extent of applications of her work, Mirzakhani pronounced she enjoyed pristine arithmetic since of a magnificence and longevity of a questions she studied.

A self-professed “slow” mathematician, Mirzakhani’s colleagues report her as ambitious, unaffected and intrepid in a face of problems others would not, or could not, tackle. She denied herself a easy path, selecting instead to tackle thornier issues. Her elite process of operative on a problem was to loll on vast sheets of white paper, scribbling formulas on a periphery of her drawings. Her immature daughter described her mom during work as “painting.”

“You have to spend some appetite and bid to see a beauty of math,” she told one reporter.

In another interview, she pronounced of her process: “I don’t have any sold recipe [for building new proofs]. … It is like being mislaid in a jungle 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 proceed out.”

Mirzakhani was innate in Tehran, Iran, and – by her possess integrity – was advantageous to come of age after a Iran-Iraq fight when a political, amicable and mercantile sourroundings had stabilized adequate that she could concentration on her studies. She dreamed of apropos a writer, though arithmetic eventually swept her away.

She attended an all-girls high propagandize in Tehran, led by a principal unbowed by a fact that no lady had ever competed for Iran’s International Mathematical Olympiad team. Mirzakhani initial gained general approval during a 1994 and 1995 competitions. In 1994, she warranted a bullion medal. In 1995, she notched a ideal measure and dual bullion medals.

After graduating college during Sharif University in Tehran, she headed to connoisseur propagandize during Harvard University, where she was guided by Curtis McMullen, a associate Fields Medal winner. At Harvard, Mirzakhani was renowned by her integrity and relentless questioning, notwithstanding a denunciation barrier. She peppered her professors with questions in English. She jotted her records in Farsi.

McMullen described Mirzakhani as filled with “fearless ambition.” Her 2004 topic was a masterpiece. In it, she solved dual longstanding problems. Either resolution would have been newsworthy in a possess right, according to Benson Farb, a mathematician during a University of Chicago, though afterwards Mirzakhani connected a dual into a topic described as “truly spectacular.” It yielded papers in any of a tip 3 arithmetic journals.

“The infancy of mathematicians will never furnish something as good,” Farb pronounced during a time. “And that’s what she did in her thesis.”

“What’s so special about Maryam, a thing that unequivocally separates her, is a newness in how she puts together these manifold pieces,” pronounced Steven Kerckhoff, during a time of her Fields Medal award. Kerckhoff is a arithmetic highbrow during Stanford and was one of Mirzakhani’s collaborators. “That was a box starting with her topic work, that generated several papers in all a tip journals. The newness of her proceed done it a genuine debate de force.”

After her doctorate during Harvard, Mirzakhani ostensible a position as partner highbrow during Princeton University and as a investigate associate during a Clay Mathematics Institute before fasten a Stanford faculty.

“Maryam was a smashing colleague,” pronounced Ralph L. Cohen, a Barbara Kimball Browning Professor of Mathematics during Stanford. “She  not usually was a shining and intrepid researcher, though she was also a good clergyman and superb PhD adviser.  Maryam embodied what being a mathematician or scientist is all about:  a try to solve a problem that hadn’t been solved before, or to know something that hadn’t been accepted before.  This is driven by a low egghead curiosity, and there is good fun and compensation with each bit of success. Maryam had one of a good intellects of a time, and she was a smashing person.  She will be tremendously missed.”

In new years, she collaborated with Alex Eskin during a University of Chicago to answer a mathematical plea that physicists have struggled with for a century: a arena of a billiard round around a polygonal table. That review into this clearly elementary movement led to a 200-page paper which, when it was published in 2013, was hailed as “the commencement of a new era” in arithmetic and “a huge work.”

“You’re torturing yourself along a way,” she would offer, “but life isn’t ostensible to be easy.”

Mirzakhani is survived by her husband, Jan Vondrák, and a daughter, Anahita.

The university will classify a commemorative entertainment in a fall, when students and expertise have returned to campus.


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