Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win the Fields Medal, has died at the age of 40.
The Fields Medal
Often considered the Nobel Prize for math, the Fields Medal is one of the most prestigious awards a mathematician can receive. The medal was first given to Lars Ahlfors and Jesse Douglas in 1936. Since then, it has been awarded every four years at the International Congress of the International Mathematics Union. The Fields Medal is awarded to mathematicians under the age of 40.
The prize itself is named after Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields who established the award, designed the original medal, and contributed funds for the award's creation.
One of the key differences between the Fields Medal and the Abel Prize, another prestigious award for mathematicians, is that the Fields Medal has an age restriction. It is meant to honor young scientists who have made strong contributions to the field so, for that reason, only those under the age of 40 are considered eligible to receive the prize.
In 2014, Mirzakhani made history by becoming the first woman to win the Fields Medal. Mirzakhani was also the first Iranian to win the medal and representatives of the Iranian government have expressed their sorrow at Mirzakhani's death. However, there has been some controversy surrounding Iranian state media's use of older images of Mizkahani which showed her with her hair covered. Those images stemmed from her time in Iran where women are required to keep their hair covered in observance of the country's strict interpretation of Islamic law.
Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne described Mizkahani as an intelligent and humble woman who wanted to inspire others to follow in her footsteps.
"Her contributions as both a scholar and a role model are significant and enduring and she will be dearly missed here at Stanford and around the world, said Tessier-Lavigne. "
Mizkahani contributions to the field of mathematics include not only her formal work but also her efforts to inspire girls and young women to pursue a career in mathematics.
Mirzakhani death was due to complications from breast cancer. She is survived by her husband and daughter.
Eric Brackett Tech Times editor Eric Brackett is a tech junkie and a gamer, covering science and technology. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter for updates and his random thoughts on the latest trends in gaming, tech, and comic books.