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Iranian Becomes First Woman to Win Math's Top Prize

Source: VOA

An Iranian-born mathematician has become the first woman to win the prestigious mathematics prize known as the Fields Medal. Maryam Mirzakhani will receive the award, widely considered the Nobel Prize for math, at a ceremony in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday.

Maryam Mirzakhani
"This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians," Mirzakhani said. "I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years."

Related article by Bjorn Carey, Stanford News Service:
Stanford's Maryam Mirzakhani wins Fields Medal

Mirzakhani said she hopes her achievement "encourages young female scientists and mathematicians".

Born and raised in Iran, Mirzakhani is a Harvard-educated mathematician and professor at Stanford University in California.

The Fields Medal is awarded every four years, to four winners by the International Congress of Mathematicians.

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

Anouncement by the International Congress of Mathematicians

Maryam Mirzakhani is awarded the Fields Medal for her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces.

  • Maryam Mirzakhani has made stunning advances in the theory of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces, and led the way to new frontiers in this area. Her insights have integrated methods from diverse fields, such as algebraic geometry, topology and probability theory.
  • In hyperbolic geometry, Mirzakhani established asymptotic formulas and statistics for the number of simple closed geodesics on a Riemann surface of genus g. She next used these results to give a new and completely unexpected proof of Witten's conjecture, a formula for characteristic classes for the moduli spaces of Riemann surfaces with marked points.
  • In dynamics, she found a remarkable new construction that bridges the holomorphic and symplectic aspects of moduli space, and used it to show that Thurston's earthquake flow is ergodic and mixing.
  • Most recently, in the complex realm, Mirzakhani and her coworkers produced the long sought-after proof of the conjecture that - while the closure of a real geodesic in moduli space can be a fractal cobweb, defying classification - the closure of a complex geodesic is always an algebraic subvariety.
  • Her work has revealed that the rigidity theory of homogeneous spaces (developed by Margulis, Ratner and others) has a definite resonance in the highly inhomogeneous, but equally fundamental realm of moduli spaces, where many developments are still unfolding


Born in 1977 in Tehran, Iran, Maryam Mirzakhani received her Ph.D. in 2004 from Harvard University, where her advisor was Curtis McMullen. From 2004 to 2008 she was a Clay Mathematics Institute Research Fellow and an assistant professor at Princeton University. She is currently a professor at Stanford University. Her honors include the 2009 Blumenthal Award for the Advancement of Research in Pure Mathematics and the 2013 Satter Prize of the American Mathematical Society.



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