Iranian `Queen of Math' dies at 40
Maryam Mirzakhani passed away on July 14 four years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Mirzakhani, who was 40, remains the only woman and the only Iranian to ever win a Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics, GHVFULEHG E\ PDQ\ DV WKH k1REHO 3UL]H RI PDWKy The Fields Medal is awarded every four years. Mirzakhani received the prize in 2014 for her work in theoretical mathematics focusing on the detailed description of curved surfaces. She also published a major work in 2013 along with Alex Eskin describing the path of a billiard ball around a polygonal table. While it seems simple, it is a problem mathematicians wrestled with for over a century, and Mirzakhani and Eskin's VROXWLRQ ZDV FDOOHG kWKH EHJLQQLQJ RI D QHZ HUD LQ PDWKHPDWLFVy :KLOH KLJKO\ WKHRUHWLFDO KHU ZRUN had implications for quantum field theory and theoretical physics as well as engineering, prime numbers and cryptography.
Born in Tehran in 1977, Mirzakhani went to college at Tehran's Sharif University before heading to Harvard University in the United States where she earned her doctorate. Her 2004 thesis is considered a masterpiece and led to articles in three top mathematics journals. 0LU]DNKDQL DFFHSWHG D SRVLWLRQ DW 3ULQFHWRQ 8QLYHUVLW\ 1HZ -HUVH\ EHIRUH PRYLQJ WR 6WDQIRUG University, California in 2008, where she continued her work and eventually won the Fields Medal in 2013.