Iranian is first woman to win Nobel Prize of maths

2014-08-13 21:31
Maryam Mirzakhani (AFP)

Maryam Mirzakhani (AFP)

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Seoul - An Iranian-born mathematician has become the first woman to win a prestigious Fields Medal, widely viewed as the Nobel Prize of mathematics.

Maryam Mirzakhani, a Harvard-educated mathematician and professor at Stanford University in California, was one of four winners announced by the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) at its conference in Seoul on Wednesday.

"This is a great honour. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians," Mirzakhani said in a press release from Stanford University where she is a professor.

"I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years," she added.

The award recognised Mirzakhani's sophisticated and highly original contributions to the fields of geometry and dynamical systems, particularly in understanding the symmetry of curved surfaces such as spheres.

Although her work is considered "pure mathematics" and is mostly theoretical, it has implications for physics and quantum field theory, as well as for the study of prime numbers and cryptography.

"Fluent in a remarkably diverse range of mathematical techniques and disparate mathematical cultures, she embodies a rare combination of superb technical ability, bold ambition, far-reaching vision, and deep curiosity," the ICM said in a statement.

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani offered his congratulations to Mirzakhani in a letter.

He added: "Today, Iranians can be proud that the first woman to win the fields medal is their fellow compatriot. Yes, the best deserve to be on top and be appreciated.

"Every Iranian no matter where she/he is in this world, is a national asset for this country and I as the representative of Iranian nation pay my respect to you. I wish you a life filled with happiness and success."

Mirzakhani was born in Tehran in 1977 and earned her PhD in 2004 from Harvard University.

She has previously won 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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